The Dallas City Council will decide next week whether the city of Dallas should join with the city of Austin in its legal battle with the state of Texas over the state legislature's recently signed "sanctuary cities" bill.
The bill, set to go into effect Sept. 1, threatens sheriffs, constables and police chiefs who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials with removal from office and forces county jails to comply with detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in all circumstances. Most controversially, it also allows police officers to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they arrest or detain, even for traffic stops.
On Tuesday afternoon, City Council members, county commissioners, state legislators and advocacy organizations from across the state gathered on the steps of the Texas Capitol to call for a "summer of resistance" against the legislators who supported the bill and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
"Gov. Abbott continues to demonize the Latino immigrant community for political gain," said Dallas state Rep. Rafael Anchia, chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. "Just as federal judges struck down intentionally discriminatory redistricting and photo ID schemes pushed by Abbott, the MALC will once again hold the State of Texas accountable in court." "If it's not about law enforcement, it has to be about something else. I think I know what that is," Anchia said. "It's about conflating immigrants with illegality, criminality and lawlessness for political gain."
Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have identified Austin and Travis County as sanctuary municipalities and want a federal judge to declare the bill constitutional as quickly as possible.
“The governor’s attack on our immigrant brothers and sisters is as unjust as it is bad policy for Texas,” said Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston. “I am shocked by his preemptive attack on Austin for having the temerity to demand equal treatment for its citizens, and I do not intend to let Austin go it alone.”
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings' office did not comment on Kingston's plan Tuesday, but said the mayor will be exploring the law and its implications with the city council, interim Dallas Police Chief David Pughes and Dallas City Attorney Larry Casto over the next few weeks.
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