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

Fifth Circuit Dismisses Texas Plea for Anti-Sanctuary Bill

In the fatal stand-off over the migrant caravan, the battle over sanctuary cities has faded from headlines recently.

In Paxton v. Travis County, Texas, the issue was even more removed. In that case, Texas wanted the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to declare its law against sanctuary cities legal.

The appeals court declined, saying the state suffered no prejudice by dismissal of the case. After all, the immigrants are losing the sanctuary war.

Anti-Sanctuary States

Texas, Iowa, and Tennessee are three of the most recent states to ban sanctuary policies. The controversy has divided the country literally since President Trump took office.

In May 2017, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law SB4 to require state law enforcement to "comply with, honor, and fulfill" federal immigration detainer requests. Earlier this year, the Fifth Circuit upheld most of the law.

But the state wanted declaratory relief that the law did not violate the Constitution. The defendants moved to dismiss for lack of standing, but the appeals court said it lacked federal question jurisdiction instead.

"States are not significantly prejudiced by an inability to come to federal court for a declaratory judgment in advance of a possible injunctive suit by a person subject to federal regulation," the appeals panel said.

Go to State Court

Basically, the panel said states can enforce their laws in their own courts. Meanwhile, the judges said, "most of SB4 is now in effect."

It was an anti-climactic end to one battle on the immigration front. In nearby New Mexico, however, there was another casualty.

A seven-year-old girl died while in custody of the Border Patrol. She was among 163 people arrested in the migrant caravan at the border crossing.

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