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‘Sanctuary cities’ law draws Austin challenge

City Council votes to sue state after Gov. Greg Abbott signs immigration policy enforcement law

Immigrant Workers Stay Home For 'Day Without Immigrants' Protest
Austin’s 'Day Without Immigrants' protest, February
Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

The Austin City Council voted 10-1 in favor of pursuing a lawsuit over a state “sanctuary cities” law signed last week by Gov. Greg Abbott, KUT-FM reported Thursday. The resolution was passed at the council’s regular Thursday meeting.

The resolution instructs the city manager to “pursue effective litigation and defense” to challenge the law, the local radio station and news site reported.

Abbott signed the bill into law Sunday, May 7, on a live Facebook video. No prior announcement of the signing was made.

The law, which goes into effect Sept. 1, includes penalties for law enforcement and other officials if they fail to honor immigration agents’ requests that they hold inmates who may be subject to deportation.

Under the law, police officers will also be allowed to question a person’s immigration status during a detainment. Elected and law enforcement officials can be punished for noncompliance under the new law.

Austin and Travis County have been a particular flashpoint around the issue, due in part to Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s announcement, shortly after she took office in January, that her office would limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities over “detainers”—requests to hold a person for possible deportation after that person would have been released due to lack of criminal charges, posting of bail, or other routine procedures.

Abbott responded to Hernandez’s announcement by cutting $1.5 million in funding to the sheriff’s department.

KUT also notes that Mayor Steve Adler was one of several mayors who traveled to Washington, D.C., recently in pursuit of an exact definition of a "sanctuary" designation from the Department of Justice.

The bill reached the governor’s desk after a lengthy Texas House debate and protests on the Capitol grounds, including a sit-in, that resulted in several arrests, including that of Council Member Greg Casar (District 4), the article noted. Casar also penned a New York Times op-ed explaining opposition to the law on Wednesday.

Council Member Ellen Troxclair (District 8) cast the only vote against the resolution.

Austin City Council Votes To Sue Over 'Sanctuary Cities' Law [KUT-FM]

Why Texans Are Fighting Anti-Immigrant Legislation [The New York Times]