Appeals court OKs some of Texas’ sanctuary cities law

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott withheld state grant funds from Travis County, where the state Capitol is located, after it refused to comply with federal immigration detainer requests. A federal appeals court on Monday ruled parts of Texas’ sanctuary cities law may go into effect amid the appeals process. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Sept. 25 (UPI) — A federal appeals panel on Monday said part of Texas’ law banning sanctuary city policies may going into effect while the court awaits arguments scheduled for November.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Texas law enforcement agencies must comply with federal detainers for undocumented immigrants, part of Senate Bill 4. The three-judge panel left in place a lower court ruling blocking the part of the law that threatens fines, imprisonment and removal from office for any state, county or city official who interferes with enforcement of the state law.

The office of Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who previously said the agency would comply with detainer requests on a limited basis, said it would now comply with all requests. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott withheld state grants from Travis County based on the sheriff’s office’s initial position.

"Contrary to the state’s position, SB4 is neither clear nor simple," she said in a statement. "The Fifth Circuit and the Trial court have both recognized the complexity of the issues, some of which were conceded by the state. I look forward to further clarification from the courts after oral argument in November."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was "pleased" with the appeals court’s ruling.

"Enforcing immigration law helps prevent dangerous criminals from being released into Texas communities. I am confident Senate Bill 4 will be found constitutional and ultimately upheld," he said.

The appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments from so-called sanctuary cities across Texas on Nov. 6.

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