Following a court order from the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he will begin receiving complaints and begin the process of prosecuting local law enforcement officials who violate the State’s sanctuary cities ban. But how this will affect immigration detainer policies at the Bexar County jail.
SB4 also known as the sanctuary cities law authorizes the Attorney General to pursue civil penalties against, or remove from office, local officials who do not enforce federal immigration laws and detainers.
Mark Rylander with the AG’s office says it allows the attorney general to receive sworn testimony from Texas residents who feel their local police chief or county sheriff is violating the law.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar says he’s not worried about anyone submitting a complaint about him or how his deputies handle federal immigration detainer requests at the jail, in fact since SB 4 was signed into law his office has become more critical about the detainer requests they receive from federal immigration agents.
“We’re asking ICE, anytime you send us a detainer, send us a warrant with it and that’s what we are going to continue to do," Salazar says.
That's related to a previous, yet separate ruling from San Antonio US District Judge Orlando Garcia related to Salazar's predecessors' decision to hold an undocumented immigrant at the jail for over 72 days without probable cause. Garcia's ruling says that jail officials must obtain some type of criminal probable cause for placing someone on a federal immigration hold.
And Salazar says according to the latest 5th Circuit order, he’s in compliance with the law. As far as his deputies on the street being allowed to ask about a person’s immigration status, that Bexar County policy also remains the same.
“As it stands now, law enforcement is allowed to ask, but one of my issues with SB 4 is there really is no mechanism to allow us to do anything. So basically it’s still illegal for a local officer to detain someone based solely on immigration," Salazar explains.
Salazar says it will be up to the District Attorney’s Office on how the County’s new Cite and Release program will work in conjunction with immigration detainer policies within the Sheriff’s Department.