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Texas is making good on its pledge to cut back funding on sanctuary cities and protect her citizenry against the illegal invasion attempting to cross the state’s southern borders. However, that pledge is not without controversy some of which comes from directly within the state of Texas itself. However, both Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the state Attorney General Ken Paxton are taking a hard-line stance to prevent those that would flout federal immigration law or even state immigration laws from running roughshod over the citizens of Texas.
In May 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the nation’s toughest law prohibiting local police from interfering with immigration law enforcement. Gov. Abbot stated of the law known as SB4
“All law enforcement officers are going to be required to follow this law. If they refuse to follow this law, or if they adopt sanctuary city policies, they are subject now to the stiffest penalties in America for adopting sanctuary city policies – which includes jail time where sheriffs could wind up in the same jail they may be releasing inmates from who are the subject of ICE detainer requests.”
The law provides both civil and criminal penalties for city and law enforcement officials who violate the law.
The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) recently announced that it is conducting an investigation into potential violations of the state’s new sanctuary city law by San Antonio Police Chief William McManus. The investigation could lead to the criminal prosecution of McManus and others involved under the SB4 anti-sanctuary city law passed in the 2017 legislative session. This is the first investigation by the Texas OAG into potential violations of the State’s new law.
OAG spokesman Mark Rylander states of the ongoing investigation – “Our office has received multiple complaints alleging that the San Antonio police chief violated Senate Bill 4, the Texas law prohibiting sanctuary city policies that the attorney general has authority to enforce. We have begun our investigation and demanded that the San Antonio Police Department preserve all of its records relating to the incident.”
Assistant Texas Attorney General Cleve W. Doty wrote a letter to the City of San Antonio on behalf of the Texas Attorney General’s office demanding the preservation of any and all evidence that might be related to the case. The letter addressed to the San Antonio Police Department, City Council, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, City Attorney Andy Segovia, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and Police Chief William McManus states in part
“Several citizens have filed complaints with the Texas Attorney General’s Office regarding an incident on December 23 involving the release of numerous suspected illegal aliens. The Texas Attorney General’s Office will investigate these complaints and the procedure in Senate Bill 4 contemplates litigation. We demand that you affirmatively preserve all relevant materials.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a proponent of SB4, also asked the attorney general to investigate the incident, stating –
“I am very troubled by the recent news reports of the San Antonio police chief releasing suspected illegal immigrants in a case of human trafficking or human smuggling without proper investigation, identification of witnesses, or cooperation with federal authorities. Such action could be in direct violation of the recently passed Senate Bill 4 and threatens the safety of citizens and law enforcement.”
The Attorney General’s office is demanding records of all officers involved in regards to the response of San Antonio police to a smuggling incident last month that resulted in 12 undocumented immigrants being released with no charges filed. The demand for records encompasses those of all of the officers involved in the incident, any recordings of the incident, office and personal phone records of Chief McManus, his assistants, and the officers involved in the incident, and any orders Chief McManus gave to any subordinate officer regarding the incident or the illegal immigrants. The letter demands written confirmation by Monday, January 15.
Doty concluded the letter with – “This letter serves to warn you of your duty to preserve all relevant information pending an imminent, statutorily-mandated investigation.”
Under SB 4, parts of which have been blocked by courts, local officials can face fines for restricting the enforcement of immigration law by the local police. Several provisions have been left in place, including one that punishes local officials who won’t let police ask about immigration status.
According to MySanAntonio.com –
Police found 12 immigrants who apparently had been smuggled to San Antonio in a tractor-trailer Dec. 23 on the East Side. Rather than turn the immigrants over to federal immigration authorities, McManus decided to charge the truck’s driver under a state smuggling law. Police interviewed the 12 immigrants as witnesses and released them.
McManus has taken heat from council members and the union representing police officials over the December incident. Councilman Greg Brockhouse sent a letter Wednesday to the U.S. attorney’s office asking it to investigate a possible “lapse in protocol.”
However, he’s still faced questions about why he used the state charges and why the immigrants weren’t turned over to U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement.
McManus has responded that ICE was notified and agents weren’t prevented from interviewing the immigrants or detaining them.
San Antonio is one of several cities and counties challenging SB 4, which is under appeal with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.