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Lawsuit filed on behalf of San Antonio against sanctuary cities ban

SAN ANTONIO – The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit to stop the sanctuary cities ban on behalf of the city of San Antonio and three nonprofit groups, naming Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton as defendants.

MALDEF’s president and general counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, made the announcement in a conference call Thursday evening. In addition to San Antonio, the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education, the Worker’s Defense Project and La Union Del Pueblo Entero were named as plaintiffs.

"It does very much undermine the ability of our public officials, especially our elected public officials, to advocate and develop policy on behalf of the city and their constituents," said city attorney Andrew Segovia.

Saenz said the lawsuit claims the new law, which is set to take effect Sept. 1, violates parts of at least three Constitutional amendments including due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment because local law enforcement would assume immigration official duties.

"Those police officers would be empowered to decide on their own whether and how to enforce federal immigration law throughout the state of Texas," Saenz said.

RELATED: City officials split over controversial sanctuary cities ban lawsuit 

San Antonio District 4 Councilman Rey Saldana spearheaded the city’s effort, which was supported by a majority of council members. Mayor Ivy Taylor said in a statement that she felt the lawsuit is premature and District 9 Councilman Joe Krier questioned why the council didn’t involve constituents.

"I think from a public policy standpoint, it's wrong,” Krier said. “It's not transparent, and citizens have had no opportunity to come down here to City Hall and say, 'Please don't spend any of my tax dollars paying our city attorneys to do this.'”

Austin officials will join San Antonio in the lawsuit on Friday.

Saenz believes Thursday’s filing could be consolidated with similar lawsuits filed last month in Webb and El Paso counties.

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