Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday defended a new Texas law that punishes sanctuary cities that is facing a lawsuit from pro-immigration officials groups.
The law, which is set to take effect in September, would let local law enforcement question the immigration status of people who are legally detained. It would also punish law enforcement officials who do not cooperate with federal immigration agents by cooperating with federal detainer requests.
The law is being challenged by officials in Maverick County and the city of El Cenizo, as well as the League of United Latin American Citizens. But in a court filing, Sessions argued that the law is not inconsistent with the Tenth Amendment, which limits the reach of the federal government over the states, and also does not violate the Fourth Amendment.
"Texas has admirably followed his lead by mandating state-wide cooperation with federal immigration laws that require the removal of illegal aliens who have committed crimes," Sessions said in a statement Friday. "The Department of Justice fully supports Texas's effort and is participating in this lawsuit because of the strong federal interest in facilitating the state and local cooperation that is critical in enforcing our nation's immigration laws."
Sessions has been a vocal opponent of jurisdictions that implement so-called sanctuary policies, and has threatened to pull federal funding from ones that fail to show compliance with federal immigration law.
Opponents of sanctuary city legislation argue that being in the country illegally does not qualify as probable cause to keep someone detained in jail after a judge has cleared them for release after under the Fourth Amendment.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia will hear a motion for a preliminary injunction that would block the implementation of the law on June 26.