The city of Austin filed a lawsuit [Complaint, PDF] on Thursday joining San Antonio and two other Texas cities in challenging the constitutionality of Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4) [text, PDF], a new immigration enforcement law signed [JURIST report] by Governor Greg Abbott [official website] early last month. The San Antonio lawsuit [Complaint, PDF], filed on the city’s behalf by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund [advocacy website] (MALDEF), alleges that the bill violates [text, PDF] the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments [texts, Cornell]. SB4 allows officers to question the immigration status of those arrested. The bill also subjects officials who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agents to punishments such as criminal charges or removal from office. MALDEF stated [press release] that the bill will increase racial profiling against Latinos and other minorities by subjecting them “to discriminatory stops and questioning by law enforcement officials who have no training and would not be subject to limits on when they question individuals about immigration status.” Austin filed its own complaint to introduce its own specific claims, although its allegations are largely similar to those of the other cities—particularly San Antonio’s. In May the cities of El Cenizo and El Paso [Complaints, PDF] filed suits hoping to halt the bill. Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF’s president and general counsel, stated that the cases are likely to be consolidated.
There has been severe rising controversy surrounding immigration ever since President Donald Trump [official profile] assumed office and passed a series of executive orders targeting immigration. In February the US Department of Homeland Security [official website] Secretary John Kelly officially issued [JURIST report] two memoranda directing its workforce to implement two executive orders to enforce immigration laws. In March President Trump signed [JURIST report] a new executive order making Iraqi citizens ineligible to receive new visas. In February the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a class action suit [JURIST report] accusing the Trump administration of violating religious freedom of nationals from the seven nations named in Trump’s executive order [text]. The same month the City of San Francisco filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against the Trump administration over the executive order to withhold federal funding from designated sanctuary cities. In January the Washington state Attorney General Ferguson and several other states filed lawsuits [JURIST report] against Trump’s first set of executive orders targeting immigration.