U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

5th Cir. Hears Oral Argument Over TX 'Sanctuary Cities' Ban

The controversial 'sanctuary cities ban' passed by the Texas legislature in the spring of 2017 had its day in court before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier this year, a federal district court blocked the law from taking effect. The district court found that imposing criminal penalties on officers that do not honor immigration detention requests, as well as imposing civil fines and removal from office against officials who limit or fail to endorse immigration enforcement.

However, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit unblocked the portion of the ban about officers being required to honor the detention requests ahead of this appeal in September.

Questioning Oral Argument

During the questioning, some of the judge's sympathies may have shown through. One judge referred to the local Texas law enforcement officers as a "poor" and "persecuted jailer." Additionally, detailed questions were asked about whether and how the law would hold local officers liable for failing to honor an ICE request, or going with ICE on an immigration raid.

In regard to the portion of the law seeking to hold officials accountable for not endorsing the ban, the court seemed rather concerned with enforcement, and what it meant for those officials' First Amendment rights. Curiously, one judge asked how the new law would handle all the city officials throughout the state that had already spoken out against the law (of which, there are many).

Sanctuary Now!

Despite having just heard the arguments, and the public and media being hot for a decision, it may be several months before an order issues from the appellate court. The case is undoubtedly going to be watched around the nation as other states might be looking to impose similar legislation. And regardless of the outcome, this case is not likely to end after this appeal. As a result of the partisan nature of the underlying immigration issues, this case is all but certain to seek SCOTUS review before all is said and done.

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