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Federal appeals court upholds Texas’ crackdown on 'sanctuary cities'

Protesters marching in the streets outside the Texas State Capital on 'A Day Without Immigrants' last year. Photo: Drew Anthony Smith / Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the majority of Texas' immigration enforcement law that imposed a crackdown on 'sanctuary cities' in the state. The statute gives law enforcement the ability to ask someone during a routine stop whether or not they are in the U.S. legally.

Why it matters: This is a major victory for Texas Republicans and the Trump administration which has been waging an aggressive fight against sanctuary cities. The Justice Department last week sued California over it's sanctuary law, alleging "obstruction of federal immigration enforcement."

The details: The Texas law, which is said to be one of the country’s toughest state-issued immigration policy, threatens officers with fines and jail time if they do not abide by immigration officials. It also prohibits cities and counties from adopting policies that limit immigration enforcement.

  • But, the court overturned the provision that imposes civil penalties for local officials who “endorse a policy under which the entity or department prohibits or materially limits the enforcement of immigration laws.” It said the "endorse" language could violate the First Amendment.

What they're saying:

  • Gov. Greg Abbott (R) lauded the ruling on Twitter, saying "Texas Ban on Sanctuary City Policies upheld by Federal Court of Appeals. Allegations of discrimination were rejected. Law is in effect."
  • Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas that represents some of the plaintiffs, said in a statement the group is "exploring all legal options going forward."
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