‘Sanctuary city Ban bill” (“Show me the paper law”) in Texas

What’s is Sanctuary city?     

There is no exact definition of being a sanctuary city. Practically it seems clear:  what “turns” a city into a sanctuary is its willingness to use its local law enforcement to do the job of ICE. (Immigration custom enforcement) which is a federal agency. Austin, Houston, LA, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Washing DC, and Seattle are good example of “sanctuary city”. It is not like a sanctuary city (city of refuge) in the Old testament where unintentional “criminals” were protected. Misconception of “sanctuary city” is that sanctuary city is the one that actively is doing something to protect the undocumented.  

Sanctuary is defined not by something Cities do, but by something Cities do not do.  

“Sanctuary cities” want to maintain the status quo in which “Immigration cops (ICE, Immigration Custom Enforcement) do what they do under its jurisdiction, and the local city cops do what they do under its jurisdiction—mainly keeping communities safe. That’s what it is supposed to be.

But under S.B.4, local cops are compelled (forced) to cooperate with ICE in doing immigration enforcement---that’s why it is called, “Show me the paper” law.

Practically what it means is that local cop (like Dallas or LAPD) when it arrests a person for speeding, and find that a person’s driver license was expired. If it is a sanctuary city, cop will give him just a citation for speeding and driving with an “expired license”. But if it is not a sanctuary city, cop will arrest him for suspicion that “they are here illegally” and they put “immigration hold” on such a person so that ICE would come and take him to its custody.

 “Show me the paper” law unconstitutional?

A lawsuit over the legality of SB4 has already been filed in Western District of Texas, challenging it violates 10th amendment and 4th amendment of US constitution.

It violates 10th amendment because “Texas” being an arm of Federal government” (“Trump Administration”) to force cities’ cops in Texas to enforce Immigration Law, which is a federal law.

The bill is a direct (unconstitutional) attack on the power that’s reserved for cities in that it imposes stiff penalties, including jail time and removal from office if local official refuses to honor a detainer or to participate in federal immigration enforcement.

It violates 4th amendment because “Immigration hold” (ICE) is put on without a probable cause or arrest warrant. This "show me your papers" law is almost certainly unconstitutional as it will force law enforcement officers in Texas to honor federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, which courts have already concluded put local jurisdictions at risk of legal liability for violating the Constitution.

Its adverse and destructive effects on our communities particularly minority communities.

  • It encourages unacceptable racial profiling of people based on immigration status.
  • It undermines the public safety of local communities. It makes local communities less safe since main jobs of local cops to protect its community from crimes are distracted by doing “Immigration enforcement”;
  • It jeopardizes the documented people at the risk of being arrested if they don’t have “Papers” in their possession;

As an immigration attorney, I’ve seen a lot of abuse on “immigration (Ice) hold”.  There are a lot of people who are here legally but do not have any documents to prove they are here legally mainly because USCIS oftentimes takes so long (years) to process their paper. They got pulled over for something like public intoxication or DWI or speeding and they get arrested and put on ICE hold, and they get detained in a jail for a week or so before ICE comes and clears them and release them. 

  • It tends to embolden abusive power of local cops and ICE over the immigrants and undocumented.
  • It erodes communities’ (particularly minority) confidence and trust and its participation and cooperation to work with it local law enforcement, thus making our communities less safe.


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The Dallas, Texas, immigration law firm Mr Jack KIM provides immigration legal services to the cities of Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Arlington, Irving, Plano, Garland, Mesquite, McKinney, San Antonio, Houston, Denton, Richardson, Allen, Frisco, Lewisville and Flower Mound, and the counties of Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Kaufman and Henderson, Texas; TX, North Texas, DFW. Because U.S. immigration laws are federal in scope, our immigration attorneys are able to represent individuals and companies in all 50 states of the United States of America.