'Sanctuary cities' ruling draws protesters to City Hall

Lead plaintiff's attorney sees hopeful signs despite ban

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Protesters were on the steps of City Hall less than 24 hours after a three-judge federal appeals panel in New Orleans rejected claims the state’s so-called "sanctuary cities" law is discriminatory.

Raul Reyes, the mayor of El Cenizo and the lead plaintiff who took on the state of Texas, said, “I was very disappointed but not surprised.”

“The Fifth Appeals Court is a very conservative court," Reyes said.

Reyes and Luis Vera, the national general counsel of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, said they see hopeful signs in the ruling despite the sanctuary cities ban being upheld for the most part.

"Our priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of our community, not to engage in immigration enforcement," Reyes said.

Vera, who filed the legal challenge on behalf of El Cenizo, said that’s because “community does come first before immigration, and the 5th Circuit noted that.”

The LULAC attorney said the court ruled communities can still prioritize how they spend their resources. He pointed out that the exact wording said, “This provision does not require cooperation unless it is reasonable or necessary.”

Vera said that, as a result, it is not mandatory that law enforcement officers ask about anyone’s legal status. He said the court also ruled on detainers on undocumented inmates so they can be held for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“'SB 4 requires cooperation but not blind obedience.' That’s a direct quote,” Vera said.

Reyes said having come this far, he has no regrets about challenging Senate Bill 4. He said any time constitutional rights, human rights and civil rights are in jeopardy, "it’s important we step up to the plate, to unite, and that is what we will continue to do.”

Vera pointed out the court’s ruling was based on the wording of SB 4, not on what may happen later. He said the result could be racial profiling, or undocumented immigrants becoming apprehensive about cooperating with law enforcement.

City attorney Andy Segovia said in the following statement that San Antonio’s level of cooperation with federal authorities will not change: 

“There is no impact to the City’s operations and we expect to maintain the current level of cooperation and coordination with federal authorities. The City of San Antonio continues to be in compliance with the applicable SB4 restrictions.”

Vera said LULAC has three legal options: Asking for a hearing before the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, returning to federal court in San Antonio to ask for a trial or even requesting that the case go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling.

SB 4 Ruling

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