Monday, May 8, 2017

Last Call For No Sanctuary At All

Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has followed through on his threat to sign a law banning sanctuary cities into law this weekend, and now we'll see how the judiciary will react to it ahead of the law going into effect on September 1.

Opponents of the law were quick to condemn the signing. Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said that the law was a "colossal blunder" and that the lawmakers who championed it were small-hearted.

"MALDEF will do its level best, in court and out, to restore Texas, the state where MALDEF was founded, to its greater glory, and to help Texas to overcome 'Abbott's Folly,' " he said in a written statement.

Saenz said the law would alienate "nearly half the state population" and make people subject to widespread racial profiling. He said the law undermines voters' rights to choose elected officials who set local policy, makes the job of local law enforcement more difficult by straining relationships with immigrant communities and would cost Texas in trade and tourism, as well as legal challenges.

"This racist and wrongheaded piece of legislation ignores our values, imperils our communities and sullies our reputation as a free and welcoming state," Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas said in a prepared statement. "We will fight this assault in the courts, at the ballot box, and in the streets if we have to."

So what does the law actually do?  It's complicated, messay, and almost surely parts of it will be struck down.

The law will ban cities, counties and universities from prohibiting their local law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status and enforcing immigration law. It will create a criminal charge for police chiefs, county sheriffs and constables who violate the ban and will charge local jurisdictions up to $25,000 for each day they are in violation.

The law will also allow police officers to ask about a person's immigration status during any legal detention, which could include a routine traffic stop.
Opponents have likened the law to Arizona's "papers, please" legislation, parts of which were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Elected or appointed officials who violate the ban could be removed from office -- another portion of the law that is likely to face legal challenges.

Abbott addressed possible challenges in his roughly five-minute Facebook Live signing, saying the key provisions in the bill have been tested at the U.S. Supreme Court and approved.

"It simply makes sense," he said. "Citizens expect law enforcement officers to enforce the law, and citizens deserve lawbreakers to face legal consequences."

Proponents of the ban say it is necessary to keep criminal immigrants off Texas streets. If local law enforcement officials don't turn over unauthorized immigrants to federal authorities, they argue, those people could go on to commit more serious crimes.

But as I've said before, really the law is about fear.  Local cops being drafted as immigration agents will make it all but impossible for Texas to get cooperation from the Latino communities in the state, not to mention stories of overeager cops looking to racially profile and round up "illegal" immigrants will be a nightmare scenario for the state's Republican majority, but this is the path Abbott and the Texas GOP have chosen.

We'll see what the federal courts have to say, but I'm thinking that demographic shift towards the Dems in Texas might start happening sooner than people have expected.

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