Federal judge considers fate of Texas 'sanctuary cities' law

The flurry of lawsuits were consolidated into a single case that will have its first hearing on Monday, when U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia will consider whether to block the law from taking effect on September 1 while the legal challenges move forward.

"It is a moderate law that fits hand in glove with federal immigration policies", Darren McCarty, an attorney for the state, said in opening statements.

On Friday, attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the federal court case.

"We are united in trying to seek a preliminary injunction on a law that would divide our community, divide communities throughout the state of Texas", San Antonio's newly elected mayor Ron Nirenberg said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is defending a new Texas law created to crack down on sanctuary cities, the Washington Examiner reports. Opponents have called the law unconstitutional and say it will disproportionately impact the Latino community. The measure also allows police to ask about immigration status during a lawful detention.

A detainer is a request by immigration officials for a jurisdiction to continue to hold a person in custody, usually for no more than 48 hours, to check if they can be handed over to ICE for potential deportation.

The law prevents cities, counties and universities from prohibiting their law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status. "We were just telling law enforcement officials they have to comply or cooperate".

Civil rights advocate Al Maldonado said the new law encourages stereotyping and racial profiling of innocent people of color by Texas law-enforcement officers. It states that the law does not violate the Fourth Amendment and that the controversial law is not preempted by the Constitution's supremacy clause. "The state has argued through all this that the bill is constitutional and that it is needed for public safety to beef up immigration enforcement".

The faceoff comes amid rising tensions nationwide over the Trump administration's crackdown on immigration, and its relentless march forward despite a string of losses in federal courts.

Under a legal concept known as pre-emption, the Obama administration opposed state laws that took a more hawkish approach to immigration enforcement than the federal government, saying that duty was reserved for the feds.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, D-New York, criticized the GOP-led House for "conjuring up red meat partisan political bills - like deporting immigrants - despite the major issues facing this country at this time". So far, only Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee have officially passed bills into law banning sanctuary policies.

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