City officials split over controversial sanctuary cities ban lawsuit

Mayor, some city council representatives say lawsuit filed prematurely

SAN ANTONIO – The City of San Antonio announced Thursday it will sue the State of Texas in an effort to block the controversial sanctuary cities ban.

After the announcement, several representatives from the city issued the following statements:

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Mayor Ivy Taylor

“I believe it was premature for the majority of City Council to give direction for city staff to join in a lawsuit against the SB4 legislation. In this case, the prudent course would be to wait until a decision has been made on whether a special session will be called. Additionally, I believe that any decision to join this lawsuit should be made in coordination with other major Texas cities, which is why I have consulted with Mayors Adler (Austin), Turner (Houston) and Rawlings (Dallas). We should be certain that litigation is the measure of last resort and that the city is bearing its fair share of any legal burden. None of these conditions have been satisfied, which is why I continue to oppose City Council’s decision to join this lawsuit.”

Roberto C. Treviño - District 1

“When bad legislation is forced upon the people against their will, municipalities and local elected officials must intercede on behalf of their respective constituencies. As the unconstitutional Senate Bill 4 threatens to divide San Antonio and communities across Texas, we the City Council have directed our City Attorney to examine a full range of options, including litigation, with the goal of protecting our diverse population. I am in full support of taking definitive action against this discriminatory law as it promotes mistrust between the community and law enforcement officers, which prevents our police officers from effectively performing their public safety duties. Each time my colleagues, City officials and I testified in Austin against this legislation, we did so alongside a diverse range of communities. In fact, many communities throughout South Texas look to San Antonio for leadership on such issues. I am confident that as San Antonio constructs a measured course of action, our involvement will influence other communities to stand united against SB 4. As we saw on the floor of the Texas Legislature, this bill can be used maliciously to target minorities. We cannot allow that vitriol to seep into our communities.”

Alan Warrick - District 2

“As a young African American, I know from firsthand experience that racial profiling exists.  We will not stand for discrimination in any form.  Public Safety should be our number one priority.  We need every officer working on fighting local crime not enforcing federal immigration law.  I support the lawsuit and would like to see public discussion and vote on the issue.”

Rebecca Viagran - District 3

“Today, the City of San Antonio filed a lawsuit with the goal of obtaining an injunction that will stop the implementation of Senate Bill 4, also known as the “show your papers” law. We won’t idly stand by and allow malicious public policy, which promotes racial profiling and threatens the freedoms of all our residents, to be enacted. 

SB 4 does nothing to protect San Antonio residents and, in fact, will make us less safe. This bill targets the most vulnerable individuals in our population and creates a state of fear where people won’t go to the police for help when they witness, or worse, are the victim of a crime. Law enforcement officials from across the state have strongly voiced their opposition to this bill because it will make ALL communities less safe.

Rey Saldaña - District 4

“We fought Senate Bill 4 at the legislature and now we will fight it in the courtroom. I am pleased to know that the City of San Antonio will no longer stand by and allow our community to be bullied by the threat of this unconstitutional and discriminatory law. Let us see how Senate Bill 4, the most draconian anti-immigrant law in the country, stands up to the Texas cities ready to defend their communities and the toughest litigators in the nation from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF).
I have been a vocal opponent of Senate Bill 4, and I will not back down when my community is under attack. The Governor and the leadership at the State have turned their back on law enforcement and have questioned the efficacy of local governing officials. If this law is not blocked, it will paralyze our police departments’ relationships with our friends and neighbors in the immigrant community and recklessly tear families apart.
It is my hope that other small and large Texas cities stand shoulder to shoulder with San Antonio and join the lawsuit. Texas cities need to band together in fighting back a legislature that has lost sight of problem solving and is wholly consumed by the politics of manufacturing fear and anger towards the most vulnerable in our community. Before this law goes into effect on September 1st, I vow to work closely with other elected officials, grassroots organizations, and community allies to ensure that those affected by this law know that they are not alone in this fight, and that we will take every measure to ensure the equal protection and safety of all our community members.”

Ron Nirenberg - District 8, mayoral candidate

"I’ve said from the beginning I agree with local law enforcement that SB4 is bad legislation. I don’t think the state government should punish local law enforcement for the federal government’s failure to do it’s job. Much like the state’s attempted preemptive lawsuit against the City of Austin on SB4, I hope this will bring a fast and final resolution on the constitutionality of the law so our local law enforcement can move forward with the job of protecting the people of San Antonio."

Joe Krier - District 9

"I mean, we’ve been told MALDEF is paying for the lawsuit, but people forget though is that unless we are paying for the city attorney’s staff salaries with bake sales or car washes, which we’re not, we’re paying their salaries with yours and mine tax dollars, so we’re putting tax dollars into this lawsuit whether we say so or not."

Mike Gallagher - District 10

“I am strongly opposed to our city’s involvement in a lawsuit against the State of Texas over the passage of SB4. We must consider the potential unintended consequences of prematurely taking this action, including the possible withholding of state grant funding for public safety. Additionally, not all major Texas cities have made their decision yet on whether to join the lawsuit. By taking action now, we are placing San Antonio in a vulnerable position. Mayor Taylor is working closely with the leaders of the other major cities and collectively, we believe that we need more time to fully evaluate the potential impact of SB4 and a lawsuit. Our city often applies for grant funding from the State to support local departments and projects. To jeopardize the approval of these grant funds would be detrimental to supporting our efforts to strengthen our police department, our parks, our highways, our historic monuments and various other projects. Never in our recent history has the City of San Antonio sued the State of Texas. Our City Council should reconsider rushing into this lawsuit and should have an extensive public discussion and schedule a formal Council vote on the issue.”

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