Paxton Sues San Antonio Over SB 4

Attorney General takes his anti-"sanctuary cities" show down the road

Alamo City Police Chief William McManus
Alamo City Police Chief William McManus

Anti-immigration activists enjoyed targeting Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez last year when pushing ICE-friendly Senate Bill 4, but the first attempt to enforce the law is aimed at our southern neighbors. Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued Alamo City Police Chief William McManus, the police department, and the city manager for failing to comply with SB 4's provisions against "sanctuary cities." The law, upheld earlier this year in federal court, forces local police to comply with all federal immigration detainer requests or face class A misdemeanor charges. It also allows police officers to ask for proof of citizenship of those they detain or arrest.

Paxton accuses McManus of breaking the law by allowing 12 undocumented immigrants, found in the back of a tractor-trailer last December, to be released out of custody instead of turned over to the feds. "In a departure from customary practice, Chief McManus asserted jurisdiction over the investigation under the state smuggling statute, advised officers at the scene that SAPD would be handling the case locally, and stated that [federal] agents were not to be involved in the case," the lawsuit reads. Paxton also calls out City Man­ager Sheryl Sculley for San Antonio's immigrant legal services contracts with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Catholic Charities, and RAICES, "the same immigration law firm called to the scene in this case." The suit, filed in Travis County, seeks to impose more than $11 million in civil penalties.

City Attorney Andy Segovia told the San Antonio Express-News that Paxton's "characterizations of what happened that day are clearly aimed at furthering a political agenda. The City has a long history of cooperating with federal authorities and we will continue to do so." State Sen. José Menéndez, a vocal opponent of SB 4 last session, slammed the suit as "frivolous" and noted that SAPD officers don't hand people over without a deportation order. "It is a disgrace for the state's top attorney to distort the requirements and range of a state law's provisions far beyond what is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution," said Menén­dez. "This latest lawsuit solely aims to intimidate local officials and immigrants into forfeiting their rights."

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SB 4, William McManus, Ken Paxton, sanctuary cities, Sheryl Sculley, Andy Segovia, José Menéndez, Senate Bill 4, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Catholic Charities, RAICES

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