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Mayor, City Council members hold news conference on ‘sanctuary’ suit

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 by KUT News

The city of Austin filed a motion in federal court Monday, seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the enforcement of Senate Bill 4, the state’s new law barring so-called “sanctuary cities.”

Mayor Steve Adler called SB 4 unconstitutional and said that if it goes into effect it will have irreparable social and economic impacts.

He said the filing seeks to show a legacy of “anti-Hispanic discrimination in the state of Texas” and that Texas and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have “collaborated to punish Austin and Travis County.”

In addition to Adler, City Council members Greg Casar and Delia Garza, Interim Police Chief Brian Manley and South by Southwest CEO Roland Swenson filed briefs in the lawsuit.

The defendants have until Friday to reply.

At a news conference announcing the filing, Casar also said officials received news Monday that the Department of Justice wants to weigh in on the case. DOJ interest suggests the Trump administration “has a dog in this hunt,” Adler said.

“SB 4 is clearly the model for carrying out a mass deportation regime of Trump’s White House,” he said. “Trump’s White House cannot carry out their mass deportations without coercing local governments like ours into becoming their deportation force. … I and my colleagues, as dutiful elected representatives of the communities here in Austin, refuse to back down.”

Garza said the past few months have been “heart-wrenching” and filled with news of families being torn apart, living in fear and taking their children out of educational programs. “This law has created such unnecessary anxiety in our community,” she said.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 4 into law on May 7. At that time, he explained his support of the law.

“As Governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets,” he said. “It’s inexcusable to release individuals from jail that have been charged with heinous crimes like sexual assault against minors, domestic violence and robbery. There are deadly consequences to not enforcing the law, and Texas has now become a state where those practices are not tolerated. With this bill we are doing away with those that seek to promote lawlessness in Texas.”

The first hearing in San Antonio’s lawsuit against SB 4, which Austin joined last month, is next Monday in federal court in San Antonio.

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This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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