Texas Ban on Sanctuary Cities Upheld Again by 5th Circuit

By George Khoury, Esq. on March 15, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

This week, the Texas law against sanctuary city policies was upheld, again, by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, this time sitting en banc. The preliminary injunction, which the circuit court stayed pending the first appeal to the panel, was all but fully dismantled by the full appellate court.

The only part of the law that the court did not lift the injunction involved penalizing officials that failed to endorse the anti-sanctuary law. The court found that the law was overly broad in what it sought to restrict, particularly given that it would prohibit (or penalize) an elected official who spoke out against the law, or other immigration policies while campaigning.

Texas Justice for Law Enforcement

In short, the lifted injunction means that state law enforcement officials in Texas can now face real penalties for refusing to enforce an ICE hold, or even share information with ICE. In a mere footnote, the Fifth Circuit explained that these penalties are necessary lest there would be no stick to enforce state law with.

In the end, it seems rather ironic that such a staunch republican state would be eager to pass a law that allows the federal government to compel state employee action, and then to penalize the officials that resist assisting the feds. But then again, the concept of Texas justice never really seemed to make sense (skip to 1:06 to see Texas Justice in action).

What's Next?

Currently, the plaintiffs are exploring their options to move forward. Although the court pretty much squashed the injunction, the case still needs to be litigated beyond the preliminary injunction phase. However, the matter may be ripe for an appeal to SCOTUS, particularly given how contentious the issue of sanctuary city policies have been over the past year.

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