Federal government supports Texas in SB 4 lawsuit

City of El Cenizo filed lawsuit, saying SB 4 is unconstitutional

EL CENIZO, Texas – A small Texas town's fight against the sanctuary cities ban just got a whole lot bigger. 

Senate Bill 4 is commonly referred to as the "show me your papers" or "sanctuary cities" bill. It allows local law enforcement to ask about people's immigration status and comply with federal immigration officers.

About a month ago, the city of El Cenizo filed a lawsuit against the state, calling the bill unconstitutional. On Monday, the Trump administration got involved.  

The defendants in the lawsuit are the state of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. 

The fight started May 8, the day after Abbott signed SB 4 into law. The city of El Cenizo filed a motion for preliminary injunction against the state, attempting to stop SB 4 from taking effect in September.

"This is a violation of civil rights and human rights. It's a reckless, dangerous and discriminatory bill that should not only be halted but declared unconstitutional," El Cenizo Mayor Raul Reyes said.

"This is a battleground," said attorney Luis Vera, with the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC. 

Vera represents El Cenizo. On Monday, his job got a lot more difficult. 

"I received an email from the Department of Justice. President Donald Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to enter the case against El Cenizo and to file a brief and a statement of interest in support of the state of Texas, asking the federal courts to deny our motion for preliminary injunction," Vera said.

Reyes isn't surprised the federal government is getting involved. He said he's just disappointed.

"I just think the Trump administration should focus on fixing the broken immigration system, rather than interfere with what happens in Texas," Reyes said. 

Reyes and his attorneys at LULAC plan to stand firm.

"It's just a lot of work. We don't sleep. We don't eat, but we'll continue to fight," Vera said. 

There will be a federal hearing about the case on June 26.

The cities of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas have officially joined this lawsuit, supporting El Cenizo. Bexar County said it plans to join as well. 



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About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.