Swift reaction to "sanctuary cities" law

Protest forms at Governor's Mansion, legal challenges promised

SAN ANTONIO – Within an hour of Gov. Greg Abbott signing the controversial bill against "sanctuary cities," opponents were already promising legal challenges.

Saying it "simply makes sense," Abbott signed the bill on Facebook Live Sunday shortly after 6:30 p.m.. Statements from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and American Civil Liberties Union of Texas criticized the law and declared their intent to  fight.

"Our immigrant communities need to know that we stand with you," said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. "We will fight this assault in the courts, at the ballot box, and in the streets if we have to. This is an assault on humanity. It will not stand."

"MALDEF will do its level best, in court and out, to restore Texas, the state where MALDEF was founded, to its greater glory, and to help Texas to overcome 'Abbott's Folly,'" said MALDEF president and general counsel Thomas A. Saenz.

RELATED: Abbott signs sanctuary cities bill into law

Protestors also gathered outside the Governor's Mansion in Austin.

The law allows police to ask about a person's immigration status if they are arrested or detained, including during actions such as traffic stops.

Sheriffs, police chiefs or constables who don't comply with I.C.E. requests to keep someone in custody could face jail time.

"Elected officials and law enforcement agencies, they don't get to pick and choose which laws they will obey," Abbott said in his video.

"Citizens expect law enforcement officers to enforce the law, and citizens deserve law breakers to face legal consequences," Abbott said.

The law has previously drawn criticism from leaders in Bexar County including San Antonio Police Chief William McManus. He said the law will require officers be trained in federal immigration law.

McManus also believes it will overload the department and alienate it from the community.

Continuing coverage:

Local government, law enforcement leaders oppose 'sanctuary city' bill

McManus on sanctuary cities bill: 'The community will no longer cooperate with us'

Mayoral candidates talk about sanctuary cities at forum

House OKs 'sanctuary city' ban with tough jail penalty

While the new law doesn't require police to ask about someone's immigration status, police departments can't stop their officers from asking.

"But the impact is the same as far as the community goes," McManus said Friday at a rally against the bill, which remained unsigned at the time. "If you fear that you could be asked, you're not going to be willing much to talk with police officers."

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.