SAN ANTONIO – Critics of the San Antonio Police Department's handling of last month’s smuggling incident involving 12 immigrants inside a tractor trailer are being called out by their attorney and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
The mayor called the attacks on Chief William McManus “nothing more than political theater based on a fictitious narrative.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will investigate whether McManus and the city of San Antonio violated SB4, in what could be one the first tests of the state’s new anti-sanctuary cities law.
McManus has been a frequent critic of SB4 and the city of San Antonio is one of the key plaintiffs challenging parts of the law still not in effect.
A ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in expected, the case likely will wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Our office has received multiple complaints alleging that the San Antonio police chief violated Senate Bill 4,” said Marc Rylander, a spokesman for the state attorney general. “The sanctuary city policy prohibits cities from acting outside their jurisdiction and out of this law.”
“The city will cooperate with any lawful investigation on the matter,” Nirenberg said.
Rey Saldana, District 4 City Council member and an SB4 plaintiff, said in a statement that he believes that the investigation will show SAPD and McManus “are guilty of one thing -- doing their job.”
Although he was limited in what he could say about the case because of the AG’s investigation, McManus said the agent with Homeland Security Investigation had “every opportunity to do what he needed to do at the scene and at Public Safety Headquarters.”
Asked to confirm, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a statement that said, in part, “The commitment is to conduct robust investigations and follow those investigations wherever they lead.”
Despite being given “unfettered access,” the mayor said, the agent could have taken the immigrants into custody, but didn’t.
George Rodriguez, a conservative activist and blogger, said he’s already filed a complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office because “public safety may be placed at risk” by the immigrants being released.
But, contrary to earlier reports, McManus said, their whereabouts are not unknown.
“Any reports of gang involvement and gang membership are completely sensationalized, salacious and, frankly, demeaning to the dignity of these individuals,” said Jonathan Ryan, an immigration attorney and executive director of RAICES, which is an immigrant advocacy group representing them. “We live right now in such a toxic political climate that it is much easier to score cheap political points on the backs of victims,” he said.