SAN ANTONIO - The Department of Justice weighed in on the Texas "sanctuary city" law, issuing a statement of interest in support of the law and offering to help defend Texas in court. The law would require local police departments to honor requests from federal immigration agents to hold inmates who are subject to deportation.
Law enforcement officers could face jail time if they don't comply with the new law. Police officers would also be allowed to question a person's immigration status when they're detained.
On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the DOJ fully supports Texas's effort and that Texas has "admirably followed" President Trump's lead in committing to keep America safe and ensuring cooperation with federal immigration law.
Senate Bill 4, known as the sanctuary cities law, has sparked widespread protests across Texas from critics who believe that the law is unconstitutional and opens the door to racial profiling. The statement of interest from the DOJ Friday was in response to several cities, including San Antonio, filing litigation aimed at blocking the controversial law.
"I'm just glad that the bureaucrats that issued those policy statements at the DOJ aren't sitting at a federal court bench or the Supreme Court," State Senator Jose Menendez said.
On Friday, local lawmakers from Bexar County reacted to the opinion, with many saying that they have full faith that our country's system of checks and balances will prevent Texas's judicial branch from being influenced by politics.
"Especially federally appointed judges who are appointed for life, who know the law infinitely better than these DOJ administrators, aren't going to be swayed by people who are towing a company line, that are out there just kind of having to support the administration's position," Menendez said.
In Bexar County, newly elected Mayor Ron Nirenberg, SAPD Chief William McManus and Sheriff Javier Salazar have all been vocal opponents of the new law. Following the DOJ's statement of interest, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed his appreciation to President Trump and the department for supporting the law.
There will be a federal hearing on the case against S.B. 4 on June 26 in San Antonio. The law is set to go into effect September 1.
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