Author Archives: Julián Aguilar

Texas back in federal court over anti-“sanctuary cities” law

Protesters opposed to Senate Bill 4, known as the "sanctuary cities" law, turn out in force for the last day of the legislative session on May 29, 2017.

Attorneys for the state of Texas are set to head back before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Tuesday to defend the state’s new immigration enforcement law, Senate Bill 4, against charges that the measure is discriminatory and violates the U.S. Constitution.

But the Texas attorney general’s office enters the courtroom with some wind at its back after a three-judge panel of the court allowed parts of the controversial law to go into effect in late September.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 4 into law in May, but several local governments, including the cities of Houston, Austin, San Antonio and El Cenizo, as well as Maverick and El Paso counties, filed suit to block the measure from going into effect.

As passed, SB 4 allows local law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they detain or arrest and punishes local government department heads and elected officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration “detainers” — requests by agents to turn over immigrants subject to possible deportation — in the form of jail time and penalties that exceed $25,000.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in late August halted several parts of the bill, including the provision that requires jail officials to honor all detainers. He also blocked other sections that prohibit local entities from pursuing “a pattern or practice that ‘materially limits’ the enforcement of immigration laws” and another that prohibits “assisting or cooperating” with federal immigration officers as reasonable or necessary. He did not block the part of the bill that says police chiefs, sheriffs and other department heads cannot forbid officers from questioning a person’s immigration status.

The state of Texas countered after Garcia’s ruling and asked a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit to lift Garcia’s ruling while the case played out. The panel ruled the detainer provision could stand but the part that requires local jails to “comply with, honor and fulfill” detainers does not require detention based on every detainer issued. The panel also determined that law enforcement officers, including campus police, with “authority that may impact immigration” cannot be prevented from assisting federal immigration officers.

Attorneys will argue on Tuesday on whether Garcia’s initial injunction should be in effect until he rules on the substance of SB 4 in its entirety.

Nina Perales, vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing several of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said among the issues is whether SB 4 violates the First Amendment.

Opponents say the law’s language prohibits law enforcement officers from speaking out against SB 4 or crafting policies that don’t focus on immigration enforcement. They also claim the law violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states that immigration laws are a federal — not a state — responsibility.

Perales said issues related to the Fourth Amendment — prohibiting illegal search and seizure — could also arise because the previous panel allowed the bulk of the detainer provision to stand. At issue, she said, is “whether SB 4’s mandatory detainer provision could force counties — primarily [the government entities] with jails — to violate a person’s Fourth Amendment rights.”

During a conference call with reporters last week, MALDEF president and general counsel Thomas Saenz said there’s no way to predict when a ruling will be made after Tuesday’s arguments.

“They can take as long as they would like. In the meantime, Judge Garcia’s injunction, as modified by the [three-judge panel’s ruling], will remain the law until this panel makes its decision,” he said.

But the 5th Circuit’s eventual ruling might not be the last word, Saenz added, because either side could petition the U.S. Supreme Court to make the final determination on whether Texas can craft its own immigration-enforcement provisions and how far-reaching they can be.

A spokesperson in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office did not respond to an email seeking comment about Tuesday’s proceedings.

Tuesday’s debate will be the latest in what’s been a year-long battle over the legislation. Filed in November 2016 and deemed an “emergency item” by Abbott, the legislation was the subject of marathon public testimony in Senate and House committee hearings, where witnesses were overwhelmingly against the measure.

After the bill was signed, protesters took to the State Capitol on the last day of the regular legislative session and disrupted proceedings in the House to the extent that the lower chamber was forced to recess until the Department of Public Safety cleared the gallery.

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Federal government rolls out eight border wall prototypes

Ground views of different border wall prototypes as they take shape during the Wall Prototype Construction Project near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on the U.S./Mexico border south of San Diego, California.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Thursday that it has completed a major step toward construction of the Trump administration’s planned wall on the southern border with Mexico.

In a statement, the federal agency said that it has completed construction of eight wall prototypes, which will undergo a series of tests over the next 30 to 60 days. The prototype construction was done in San Diego.

“Border security contributes to our overall national security and relies on a combination of border infrastructure, technology, personnel, and partnerships,” Ron Vitiello, CBP’s acting deputy commissioner said in a statement. “Border walls have proven to be an extremely effective part of our multi-pronged security strategy to prevent the illegal migration of people and drugs over the years.”

In all, six companies, including Houston-based Texas Sterling Construction, built eight prototypes. The company has existed for more than 60 years, according to its website. A call seeking additional details about the border wall project was not immediately returned.

Construction of the controversial barrier was a hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign, and he moved forward with the process shortly after taking office. In a Jan. 25 executive order, he mandated that agencies “take all appropriate steps to immediately” plan and design the wall. His promise that Mexico would pay for it, however, hasn’t panned out. The Mexican government has repeatedly rejected that notion. The total price tag for the project isn’t clear, though some reports state the figure could exceed $20 billion.

This month, the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee passed the Border Security for America Act, introduced by Austin Republican and committee chairman Michael McCaul. The legislation would authorize $10 billion for wall construction and an additional $5 billion for upgrades to the country’s ports of entry.

But other lawmakers, including some Republicans, have rejected the notion of such a wall, and have argued instead for a “smart” or “virtual” wall that uses technology, including sensors, drones and other efforts, instead of a physical barrier.

According to Thursday’s news release, CBP will test the San Diego prototypes in several areas, including anti-digging, climbing or breaching strengths, whether they are safe for U.S. Border Patrol agents and whether they impede traffic.

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Dallas Fed CEO: Technology, not trade or immigration, is main reason for job loss

A truck travels on TX-281 Military Highway in Pharr, Texas.

SAN ANTONIO — If policymakers and elected officials keep buying into the misnomer that trade and immigration are the keys to job loss, the state’s and country’s leaders are going to craft policies that hinder growth and prosperity, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas told business leaders in San Antonio.

“A lot of these job dislocations are being publicly blamed on trade and immigration. Our analysis at the Dallas Fed is 15 years ago, maybe. Today, no,” Robert Kaplan told members of the Texas Business Leadership Council. “More likely, if your job is being disrupted it’s because of technology.”

Kaplan said instead business and education leaders should look at the issues of unemployment and education through an apolitical lens if they don’t want to risk Texas and the rest of the country becoming less competitive.

“We have a big skills gap, not only in Texas but in the United States. This is a big problem because every one of these jobs that goes unfilled [means] lower GDP, lower productivity, lower prosperity,” he said. “If we get that diagnosis wrong, for obvious reasons, we’re going to make very poor policy decisions, which will cause us to grow less quickly than we would otherwise.”

Kaplan also touched on the North American Free Trade Agreement and how further discussions over how to modernize the 1992 trade deal will spill into next year. Mexico’s constitution allows a president to serve one six-year term, so negotiations could take on a new dynamic during Mexico’s 2018 election season if voters rally around a  candidate who has different views on NAFTA than current President Enrique Peña Nieto.

It’s especially noteworthy for Texas because trade with Mexico is predominantly intermediary, Kaplan said. That means some goods and products pass back and forth between the two countries several times.

“That is different than the trade relationship with China. So it pays to segment the trade relationships and think about them in a very strategic way,” he said.

Texas would be the most-affected state if NAFTA is reworked in a way that decreases trade between the two countries. From January to August of this year, more than $366 billion in two-way trade has passed through ports in the United States and Mexico, according to WorldCity, a Florida-based economics think tank that uses U.S. Census data to track trade patterns. That figure represents a 5.85 percent increase compared to the same timeframe in 2016.

About $193.4 billion of 2017’s trade has passed through the Laredo customs district, with another $61.5 billion passing through the El Paso customs district. The ports of Houston and Port Arthur are also in included in Mexico’s top 10 trading partners, ranking fifth with $13 billion and eighth with $3.5 billion, respectively.

On Hurricane Harvey, Kaplan said the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas estimates the costs of damage to homes ranges from $45 billion to $55 billion and damage to businesses is between $15 billion and $20 billion. He said that means the affected areas, especially Harris County, will need an influx of workers to rebuild — causing concerns for leaders because of the current debate over unauthorized migration. He said the bank estimates that as many as 50 percent of the construction workers in Harris County are undocumented.

“Let me put it this way: It’s a concern among leaders in Houston. They are very aware of it,” he said. “One of the big issues in rate of rebuilding is you need a construction force. And you probably need some migration of construction workers to your state. So they’re concerned about it.”

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Cruz presses Sessions on Trump administration’s “catch-and-release” policy

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the 30th D.A.R.E. International Training Conference in Grapevine, Texas, on July 11, 2017.

Amid a heavy backlog in immigration courts in Texas and California, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday said the federal government was considering ways to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants who are granted hearings before immigration judges before being deported. While a legislative solution is preferred, he added, his agency was investigating what it could do absent Congressional action.

The comments were made during a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pressed Sessions on whether the federal government was still operating under an Obama-era, “catch-and-release” policy where undocumented immigrants are not immediately deported.

“That is highly troubling. When I heard those reports in January and February, I told [U.S. Border Patrol agents] ‘Give the administration some time to get their team in place.’ You can’t turn a battle ship overnight,” Cruz said. “It’s now October.”

“We are looking at if there are any things we can do effectively, short of legislation,” Sessions responded. “But there is no doubt Mr. Chairman, we need legislation on this subject and several others.”

Sessions pushed back against Cruz’s description of the process as a “policy” and said it was instead the current reality because immigration courts are experiencing a record number of backlogged cases. He said that’s due to a “loophole” that allows undocumented immigrants who claim a credible fear of returning home the right to appear before an immigration judge in the United States.

“There are so many people claiming [credible fear] and being entitled to hearings that we don’t have the ability to provide those,” he said. “And they are being released into the community.”

The number of pending deportation cases in the country has more than doubled since 2011, according to data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. That year there were about 297,500 pending cases but as of August 2017, the number had grown to more than 632,000. More than 100,500 of those cases are pending in Texas, the second-highest number after California’s 118,750.

Advocates argue that the Trump administration’s efforts to make deportations more “efficient” are actually hindering efficiency and jeopardizing due process. In a report released Tuesday, Human Rights First said that an earlier policy of sending immigration judges to the border led to several postponed cases elsewhere and an eventual lack of representation for undocumented immigrants who have access to counsel.

“Recent policies of the Trump Administration have decreased access to counsel in immigration courts and added to systemic inefficiencies,” the report states. “The waves of postponements triggered by the attorney general’s decision to send judges to detention centers ‘along the border’ on detail assignments…have caused lawyers (many of which provide pro bono legal services) to waste their limited resources preparing for hearings that are often cancelled.”

Immigrant rights groups and attorneys are also quick to point out that not everyone who claims credible fear is released while they await a hearing. A recent case out of Texas involved a Mexican journalist, Martin Mendez Pineda, who fled the resort city of Acapulco after he was attacked by Mexican federal officers and later threatened at gunpoint by six armed men, according to case documents provided by his attorney. But after trying – and failing – to be released from immigration detention while awaiting his hearing, he eventually gave up and voluntarily returned to Mexico.

Sessions remarks on Wednesday come a week after the attorney general suggested that immigration judges should have quotas in an effort to reduce the current case backlog. The suggestion didn’t go over well with immigration judges.

“Tying numerical case completions to the evaluation of the individual judge’s performance evaluation specifically interferes with judicial independence and clearly will put immigration judges in a position where they could feel forced to violate their legal duty to fairly and impartially decide cases in a way that complies with due process in order to keep their jobs,” the National Association of Immigration Judges said in a written statement prepared for Wednesday’s hearing.

On Monday, at a forum at the University of Texas, Austin-based immigration attorney Virginia Raymond said the judges’ opposition to the proposal speaks volumes.

“Most of them are former [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] attorneys. It’s not like they are bleeding heart humanists who care about refugees and immigrants,” she said. “And if they are saying this doesn’t work, maybe that’s saying something.”

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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Texas attorney general now accepting complaints on “sanctuary” jurisdictions

Ken Paxton speaks at the Texas State Rifle Association General Meeting in Round Rock on Feb. 25, 2017.

Texans who suspect their elected or appointed officials of enforcing policies that protect undocumented immigrants can now file an official complaint with the office of the state’s top prosecutor.

Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday announced his office is accepting sworn complaints against “sanctuary” jurisdictions that prohibit local police from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. The announcement comes after Monday’s decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that parts of the state’s immigration enforcement legislation, Senate Bill 4, can go into effect while the case plays out on appeal.

As passed, the law calls for civil penalties of up to $25,000 per day on local jurisdictions that violate its provisions. The officials are also eligible for removal from office.

The panel ruled that jail employees must honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold a person for possible deportation, provided the jail follows current ICE policies. But attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case, including the cities of El Paso, El Cenizo, San Antonio and others, argued after the ruling that local jurisdictions can still consider detainers individually.

“SB4 mandated compliance by local jurisdictions with every single detainer no matter what, and the penalty for not honoring every single detainer was up to a year in jail,” said Nina Perales, the vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “The 5th Circuit has let this provision go into effect but given localities the discretion to evaluate detainers on a case-by-case basis.”

But Paxton said Tuesday the 5th Circuit’s mixed ruling was a victory for the state and rule of law.

“The 5th Circuit quickly confirmed what my office and I long maintained: Senate Bill 4 is a common sense measure that prevents governments in Texas from standing in the way of federal enforcement of immigration law,” Paxton said in a statement. “By enforcing the key provisions of SB 4, we will prevent dangerous criminals from being released back into our Texas communities.”

Paxton said complaints could also be lodged against officials who adopt policies that prevent officers from assisting, cooperating or exchanging information with federal immigration officials.

The court ruled that officers cannot be prohibited from assisting or cooperating with the federal officials but that the language in the bill that prohibits “materially limiting” cooperation was too vague. That decision also drew mixed reviews.

“Local jurisdictions cannot flatly prohibit their employees from immigration enforcement or questioning,” Perales said. “But local jurisdictions are still allowed to set priorities.”

The back and forth between the plaintiffs and the state of Texas is likely to continue for at least six more weeks. The appeals court’s decision to allow parts of the bill to go into effect could be valid only until a separate panel hears arguments on the overall case itself. That is scheduled for the first week of November. The future of the bill and its various provisions will be decided after that hearing.

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Federal appeals court to hear arguments on Texas “sanctuary cities” law Friday

People demonstrating against Senate Bill 4, the "sanctuary cities" ban, march near the Riverwalk in San Antonio on June 26, 2017. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia heard opening arguments from Texas cities and counties challenging the measure, signed into law by Gov. Greg  Abbott.

The immediate future of Texas’ immigration-enforcement law hinges on how well the state’s attorneys argue on Friday that the legislation is both essential to public safety and should not have been partially blocked by a federal judge days before it was scheduled to go into effect.

The state’s attorneys will again face off with opponents of the law, Senate Bill 4, but this time it will be before a three-judge panel of of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. It follows last month’s decision by a Bexar County federal judge that halted key provisions of the sweeping measure.

As passed, SB 4 prevents police chiefs, sheriffs and other local leaders from preventing peace officers from questioning the immigration status of people they detain or arrest. It also seeks to punish local government department heads and elected officials that limit cooperation with federal immigration officials, including those who don’t cooperate with “detainers” — requests by agents to turn over immigrants subject to possible deportation. Punishment could come in the form of jail time and penalties that exceed $25,000.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia halted the part of the bill that required jail officials to honor all detainers. He also blocked other sections that prohibit local entities from pursuing “a pattern or practice that ‘materially limits’ the enforcement of immigration laws” and another that prohibits “assisting or cooperating” with federal immigration officers as reasonable or necessary.

The Texas Attorney General’s office is asking the Fifth Circuit court to lift those blocks while the case winds through the appeals process. It argues, in part, that SB 4 is essential to keeping the public safe.

“SB 4 is wholly valid, and the State has every right to prohibit its own localities from having sanctuary-city policies,” Scott Keller, the Texas solicitor general, argues in the state’s motion to lift the injunction. “Moreover, the Order even threatens existing and legitimate local voluntary cooperation with the federal government’s enforcement of immigration law.”

But opponents of the law, which include the cities of El Cenizo, Austin, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso, say that claim is flawed because SB 4 was never enacted in the first place.

“The legal landscape today is the same as the landscape on August 29, 2017, the day before the District Court issued its order,” plaintiffs’ attorneys, which include the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the South Texas Civil Rights Project and the American Civil Liberties Union, argue in their response. “Neither the State’s misreading of the terms of the injunction nor its sky-is-falling rhetoric can manufacture harms.”

A key issue in the legal debate is whether a local entity choosing to detain a person based solely on suspected immigration status – and not because another crime was allegedly committed – violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizure by the government.  Garcia cited the amendment in calling for a halt to SB 4’s detainer provision but Texas’ attorneys willargue that the Fourth Amendment, doesn’t extend to immigrants living in the country illegally.

“Neither this court nor the Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment extends to a native and citizen of another nation who entered and remained in the United States illegally,” Keller argues. “So it is doubtful that the Fourth Amendment even applies to many aliens subject to ICE detainers under SB 4.”

Even if it did apply, the state adds, Garcia was wrong to limit state or local compliance with detainer requests because those entities are aiding a federal agency, which is legally able to ask for such assistance.

“It makes no difference whether state officials carry out the first 48 hours of that detention at the express request of the federal government,” Keller states. “That is especially so since a federal ICE-detainer request to state officials is backed by a federal immigration warrant.”

But the opponents’ attorneys argue that other district courts that also fall under the Fifth Circuit’s jurisdiction have found that detention based solely on suspected immigration status violates the Fourth Amendment.

“The State cites no decision holding that local officials may constitutionally detain an individual on probable cause of removability – much less that local officials must cede to third parties their duty to make a probable cause determination,” they argue.

Friday’s arguments will be preceded with a rally outside the court building organized by civil and immigrants’ rights groups who oppose the legislation, including the ACLU, the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund and the Congress of Day Laborers.

A timeline for a ruling on the state’s request to allow the full law to go into effect after Friday’s arguments isn’t certain. But the court has already scheduled a separate hearing for November for the appellate court to hear arguments on the injunction itself, and whether the case should proceed on its merits.

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Trump ending immigration program that has impacted more than 120,000 in Texas

The Trump Administration made it official Tuesday: It will end an Obama-era program that has granted relief from deportation to hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement that the administration will phase out the initiative — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — or DACA — program — over six months.

Started in 2012, the program has awarded more than 800,000 recipients — including more than 120,000 Texans — a renewable, two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation proceedings. It applies to undocumented immigrants who came to the country before they were 16 years old and were 30 or younger as of June 2012.

In a statement released before Sessions’ announcement, Acting Department of Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke said the agency would no longer accept new applications and added the administration’s action was intended to prompt Congress to pass an immigration solution.

“With the measures the Department is putting in place today, no current beneficiaries will be impacted before March 5, 2018, nearly six months from now, so Congress can have time to deliver on appropriate legislative solutions,” she said. “However, I want to be clear that no new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on.”

Rumors had swirled since last month that President Donald Trump was leaning toward eliminating the program after he promised to do so while campaigning for president. His decision sparked immediate outrage from immigrants rights groups and their supporters.

“This spiteful executive action runs counter to what has made America and Texas great,” said Ann Beeson, the executive director of the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities. “While the Trump Administration will use the six month delay to point the finger at Congress, make no mistake that it is the President who is dashing the hopes and dreams of young people protected by the DACA program. Ending the DACA program is contrary to Texas values and bad for the Texas economy.”

This summer, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton urged the U.S. Department of Justice to end the program, claiming it was an unlawful overreach by former President Barack Obama. Paxton and nine other state attorneys general wrote in a June 29 letter to Sessions that should the program stay intact, they would amend a 2014 lawsuit filed in Brownsville to include a challenge to DACA.

The 2014 lawsuit was filed in response to a separate Obama administration initiative, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, that would have expanded the eligible population of the DACA program and lengthened work permits to three years. That program was never implemented after the state of Texas sued the Obama Administration and successfully convinced a district judge and an appellate court that Obama overstepped his executive authority. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court split on the matter, upholding the appellate court’s decision.

The issue has prompted lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to file legislation to maintain the program in some form, including the bipartisan BRIDGE Act in the U.S. Senate that would extend protections for certain undocumented immigrants for three years. Economists have also cited DACA’s benefits to the economy as a reason it should remain intact. Even Trump has stated before that deciding to end the program would be “very, very hard.”

But immigration hardliners argue that despite the “deferred action” title, the program is nothing more than amnesty for people who have violated the country’s laws – no matter how old they were when they first entered the U.S.

Jackie Watson, an Austin-based immigration attorney who represented some of DACA’s earliest Texas-based applicants, said last month that attorneys are already discussing what, if any, legal action they could take should the program be axed — and whether rescinding it might “light a fire under Congress to make DACA a permanent statute.”

But she also said all of those options would be uphill battles. “It will be a total Hail Mary,” she said.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Disclosure: The Center for Public Policy Priorities has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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El Paso City Council votes down city ID program

The Rio Grande between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

The El Paso City Council narrowly voted against creating a municipal identification card program amid concerns that the measure would lead to the border city being perceived as the kind of “sanctuary” jurisdiction that has been the target of President Donald Trump and Texas’ Republican leaders.

In a 5-4 vote, the council voted down funding the program, which immigrant rights groups and advocates for the poor have called for since 2014 as a way for those unable to obtain a driver’s license or other state-issued identification sign up for bank accounts and access city services such as libraries. Applicants would have had to prove they reside in the city to obtain the card.

Mayor Dee Margo cast the deciding vote against the measure, explaining that he didn’t want El Paso to be perceived as “sanctuary” city – the common term for a jurisdiction that doesn’t enforce state or federal immigration laws.

In May, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4, which punishes elected and appointed officials for enacting policies that ignore federal immigration laws. The punishment for doing so could be jail time and the denial of grant funds from the entity in violation. Opponents of the measure have filed a lawsuit to halt the law, which takes effect Sept. 1. A federal judge has yet to rule on that case.

The Trump administration has also spoken in recent months about cutting off some federal funds from “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

“I do not want to give the inference that we are a sanctuary city, as we are not,” Margo, a former Republican state representative, said in a statement. “Redevelopment grants are critical to the economic development of our community, and we cannot afford to put those funding opportunities in jeopardy.”

Margo added that the cost of the program was too high when he considered the city’s other pressing needs like public safety. The city was debating a potential match of $320,000 with the county for the identification program, according to the city council agenda.

In a statement, the Border Network for Human Rights, which launched the petition in support of creating the program in 2014, said the city gave in to political pressure.

“Fear mongering ran deep in today’s discussion. SB 4 was invoked — even though it does nothing to prohibit a Community ID program,” BNHR spokesperson Gabriela Castaneda said. “The Council was threatened, intimidated, and bullied by racists, and, ultimately, it worked. This bodes ill for our city.”

The vote shouldn’t be a complete surprise after the council expressed concerns as early as April 2016 over how the ID card would be viewed by state leaders, according to a city report issued then.

“In the past year, there has been legislation filed at both the state and federal level regarding ‘sanctuary cities.’ These bills seek to prohibit local government entities from having policies, ordinances, and rules that prohibit or interfere with the enforcement of immigration laws,” the city’s report states.

Proponents of the measure cited similar projects in Oakland and San Francisco as examples of where the municipal ID program has worked. They also made clear that the card wouldn’t have the same benefits as a Texas driver’s license and couldn’t be used for travel or to get through a TSA checkpoint.

El Paso County is still considering an ID card for its residents.

Disclosure: Dee Margo has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.

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Report: Texas could lose billions if new immigration enforcement law stands

A woman demonstrating against Senate Bill 4, the so-called sanctuary cities law, waves a flag during a march near the San Antonio Riverwalk on June 26, 2017. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia is hearing arguments from Texas cities and counties challenging the bill, signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Representatives from Texas’ business, local government and higher education sectors argued Tuesday that the state’s new immigration-enforcement law, which is slated to take effect Sept. 1, could do billions of dollars in damage to the Texas economy.

Using data from the 2015 American Community Survey and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance — a group made up of 40 state-based immigrant and civil rights groups — estimated during a Tuesday press conference that the state stands to lose roughly $223 million in state and local taxes and more than $5 billion in Gross Domestic Product under Senate Bill 4.

The law, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May and seeks to outlaw “sanctuary” jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials, would also allow local police officers to ask about a person’s immigration status when they are detained — not just when they are charged with a crime.

“We estimate those costs as they relate to jobs, earnings, taxes and GDP if 10 percent of undocumented immigrants were to leave Texas,” the group said, calling that 10 percent figure a conservative estimate. The group analyzed the top 10 industries that benefit from undocumented labor and used Harvard University economist George Borjas‘ undocumented population analysis in its research, according to the methodology outlined in the study.

Supporters of the legislation argue it’s needed to prevent local law enforcement officials from providing a safety net to deportable and violent undocumented immigrants who have already been charged with crimes. But opponents — who are keeping their fingers crossed that a judge will halt the measure before it takes effect — say it’s a racial-profiling bill that’s similar to Arizona’s “show-me-your-papers” law.

The economic argument isn’t a new one for opponents of the law; several Democratic state lawmakers tried and failed to convince their colleagues of its merit during this spring’s regular legislative session. State Democrats also called for an update to a study released in 2006 by former Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. That analysis showed that undocumented immigrants who lived in Texas in 2005 added $17.7 billion to the state’s economy.

In a statement Tuesday, representatives from local chambers of commerce at the news conference went after the lawmakers who championed the legislation, calling them dishonorable. 

“Each of you standing with us have a big job to do,” said Ramiro Cavazos, the CEO of San Antonio’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “And that it is to protect this economy for our children and our grandchildren.”

The Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Bilateral African American Chamber, the United Chamber of Commerce Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley Chamber of Commerce were among those represented at the news conference.

They also tied SB 4 to the state Legislature’s current debate over whether transgender Texans should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. The legislation back backed by ultra conservative lawmakers would restrict bathroom use in schools and local government buildings to what’s on a person’s birth certificate.

The National Football League has expressed concerns that passing such a bill could affect the league’s decision to host next year’s draft in Dallas, the chamber groups said. “Similarly, professional sports players’ associations may oppose SB 4, given the diversity of their memberships, and may withhold events from Texas.”

The constitutionality of SB 4 is still being weighed in two federal courts in Texas.

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Death toll in San Antonio immigrant-smuggling case rises to 10

The truck with human trafficking victims — nine of whom died from heat exposure — was discovered at a Walmart in southwest San Antonio.

The death toll from the weekend’s immigrant-smuggling tragedy in San Antonio has risen to 10, and the driver in the alleged crime is scheduled to appear in a federal courtroom Monday morning.

James Mathew Bradley, Jr., 60, is being held for his alleged role in the incident, in which San Antonio police found dozens of people in the back of a sweltering trailer early Sunday morning.

Police initially said that 38 people were in the truck, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said the actual count is 39; officers found one additional person hiding in a wooded area near the scene. Eight people were found dead and two more died later at local hospitals. All of the deceased were adult males.

A criminal complaint is likely to be filed sometime before Bradley’s appearance, an ICE official said. But it’s unclear what charges Bradley could face.

Though Sunday’s news made worldwide headlines, ICE officials said in their statement that Sunday’s human smuggling attempt was one of thousands made since 2016. During that fiscal year, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit investigated 2,110 such attempts that resulted in 1,522 criminal convictions. That same year, the unit made 2,734 criminal arrests and 3,007 administrative arrests related to human smuggling.

In May, Border Patrol agents found 14 undocumented immigrants hiding in a grain hauler at the agency’s checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas. And in the news release, acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said Sunday’s incident reminded him of another Texas tragedy he saw with his own eyes.

“I personally worked on a tragic tractor trailer case in Victoria, Texas, in 2003, in which 19 people were killed as a result of the smugglers’ total indifference to the safety of those smuggled and to the law,” he said.

It’s unclear where the immigrants in Sunday’s attempt were from or where their ultimate destination was. The ICE official said they are being treated at local hospitals and “officials will not release the identities or alienage of victims until relatives can be notified.”

 

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Trump administration awards $2.3 million to Texas for border security

Texas National Guardsmen from C Co, 3-124th CAV go through jump drills.

The state military patrol that’s been on the Texas-Mexico border since 2014 just got a $2.3 million boost from the federal government to help keep it in place.

The Texas Military Department said on Monday it’s been allotted that money from the federal government to continue its border security efforts through the end of the current fiscal year.

The confirmation from Lt. Col. Travis Walters came after Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release that the federal government is finally stepping up to help pay for more border security.

“The taxpayers of Texas have funded border security, a federal responsibility, for far too long,” he said.

Abbott added that the Texas National Guard serving in support of Operation Secure Texas, that state’s border-security mission, would “transition to federal orders” beginning in late July.

But Walters said the change would not affect what the Texas National Guard is currently doing.

“The transition from a state to federal status, in terms of funding, will not impact the mission of the Texas National Guard or its role in protecting and serving the citizens of Texas,” he said.

The money comes weeks after the state Legislature again appropriated $800 million for border security efforts over the next two years after allotting the same amount, then a record, in 2015. The majority of that funding goes to the Texas Department of Public Safety, however, and none of the funding for the upcoming biennium was slated to go to the Texas Military Department.

The state’s military presence has been concentrated in the Rio Grande Valley since 2014 when a surge of undocumented migration from Central America created a crisis situation. Proponents of the move said it was needed to help an overwhelmed U.S. Border Patrol, whose agents were ill-prepared to handle the influx and concentrate on border security efforts.

But critics of the deployment saw the effort as little more than political theater because the state’s soldiers weren’t tasked with enforcing immigration laws and instead only served to tarnish the region’s image.

Former Gov. Rick Perry, who ordered the 2014 deployment, was also blasted by critics for the estimated $12 million monthly price tag that came with the order.

Abbott’s office did not respond to a request for additional comment on Monday’s announcement. The Texas Military Department didn’t indicate for how long after the fiscal year ended the guard would remain on the border.

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Texas leads 10 states in urging Trump to end Obama-era immigration program

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and officials from nine other states on Thursday urged the Trump administration to end an Obama-era program that’s allowed hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants to live and work in the country without fear of being deported.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Paxton urged the White House to rescind the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. DACA applies to undocumented immigrants that came to the country before they were 16 years old and were 30 or younger as of June 2012. It awards recipients a renewable, two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation proceedings.

As of August 2016, more than 220,000 undocumented immigrants in Texas had applied for a permit or a renewal of one under the program, and nearly 200,000 of those have been approved, according to government statistics. It’s the second-highest total behind California’s estimated 387,000 applications and 359,000 approvals during the same time frame.

“We respectfully request that the Secretary of Homeland Security phase out the DACA program,” Paxton wrote. He was joined by the attorneys general of Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter.

“Specifically, we request that the Secretary of Homeland Security rescind the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum and order that the Executive Branch will not renew or issue any new DACA or Expanded DACA permits in the future,” Paxton wrote.

The state officials added in the letter that rescinding the program won’t “require the federal government to remove any alien.”

The DACA initiative preceded a broader but ill-fated 2014 program, known as DAPA, which would have expanded the eligible population of the program and lengthened the work permits to three years. That program was never implemented after the state of Texas sued the Obama administration and successfully convinced a district judge and an appellate court that Obama overstepped his executive authority. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court split on the matter and upheld the appellate court’s decision.

The Trump administration officially rescinded that policy earlier this month but said that DACA and some expanded DACA permits would remain in effect. Paxton argued in Thursday’s letter that that’s not good enough and warned that if the 2012 program isn’t rescinded, he and the other plaintiffs from the 2014 lawsuit would go back to court to settle the issue.

“If, by September 5, 2017, the Executive Branch agrees to rescind the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum and not to renew or issue any new DACA or Expanded DACA permits in the future, then the plaintiffs that successfully challenged DAPA and Expanded DACA will voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit currently pending in the Southern District of Texas,” they write. “Otherwise, the complaint in that case will be amended to challenge both the DACA program and the remaining Expanded DACA permits.”

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, blasted the move and warned the signatories they’ll be remembered for being on the wrong side of history.

“Their evident xenophobia is not remotely consistent with the trajectory of our nation’s history and future progress,” MALDEF president and general counsel Thomas Saenz said in a statement. “Their political careers and each of their states will suffer from their mean-spirited stupidity.”

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Attorneys spar over Texas immigration law in federal court

Opponents of Texas’ state-based immigration law told a federal judge Monday that allowing the controversial measure to stand would pave the way for a nationwide police state where local officers could subvert the established immigration-enforcement powers of the federal government.

But the state’s attorneys argued in tandem with their colleagues from the U.S. Department of Justice that the issue was settled in 2012 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a state-based immigration-enforcement provision passed in Arizona.

The day marked the first skirmish in what could be a lengthy battle over Texas’ law, Senate Bill 4, which has been billed as the toughest state-based immigration bill in the country. Known as the “sanctuary cities” law, SB4 allows local law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they detain or arrest and seeks to punish local government department heads and elected officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration “detainers” — requests by agents to turn over immigrants subject to possible deportation. Punishment could come in the form of jail time and penalties that exceed $25,000.

Opponents of the measure, including the cities of Houston, Austin, San Antonio and El Cenizo, as well as Maverick and El Paso counties, have argued the law violates several provisions of the U.S. Constitution, including guarantees of equal protection and freedom of speech. They are seeking a temporary injunction of the rule, which is scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1.

Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union representing the city of El Cenizo, a small municipality in Webb County, argued that the law, as written is vague and provides such little guidance to officers that they will be forced to use a heavy hand when detaining or arresting someone. That, he said, will lead to a broad assumption that they need to ask nearly every minority their immigration status for fear of violating the provision of the law — the aftereffect of which would be an across-the-board erosion of Texans’ rights.

“The overriding point is that the penalties are so harsh that it’s simply unrealistic for any police officer to take a chance” of violating the law, Gelernt told U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia. “[The lawmakers] knew what they were doing when they crafted the legislation.”

As they have since the bill was passed by the Legislature in April, supporters of the measure said it doesn’t require an officer to question a person’s status, — instead, it merely lets them if they feel they need to do so. And it prevents police chiefs and sheriffs from preventing them from doing so, they added, which provides the state of Texas a uniform immigration policy instead of a piecemeal approach.

“There is an ongoing debate in the country about federal immigration law,” said First Assistant Attorney General Darren McCarty. “That is a healthy and appropriate debate, and it should be decided in [state] Legislatures and Congress. Where it is not appropriate to decide it — respectfully, your honor — is in litigation.”

But Gelernt said that the state glossed over the differences between SB 4 and the Arizona measure in an effort to simplify the matter before the court.

“We think there are critical differences,” he said. “One is that the penalties in Arizona, if they came about at all, would only go against the agency, and not against individuals. [And] the inquiries during traffic stops could be made only if there was reasonable suspicion, so you couldn’t just ask. That reasonable suspicion is not in SB 4.”

Gelernt added that in Arizona’s bill, an officer had to alert federal immigration officials if they came across someone in the country illegally. In Texas’ bill however, there is no direction, which is a main reason opponents of the  measure have argued the bill’s intent is vague.

There was also a heavy focus on whether the bill would subject all state employees to penalties for speaking out against the measure. The focus, to date, has been on elected and appointed law enforcement officials, who would be barred from “endorsing” policies that prohibit officers from questioning a person’s status, according to the language of the bill. But Nina Perales, the vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Funs, said the penalties could extend all the way down to employees of local entities that have nothing to do with law enforcement, like a community college district. She used an example San Antonio’s Alamo Community Colleges, which adopted a resolution in support of DREAMers — young undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children.

But deputy attorney general Brantley Starr said the endorsement language is “contextual” and that a professor expressing his or her opinion isn’t the same as a board of trustees adopting a policy that restricts campus police from acting.

The state also took issue with the plaintiffs’ argument that local police officers would choose enforcement of immigration law instead of adhering to their primary responsibilities. He said the bill says officers will only cooperate with federal immigration officers “as reasonably necessary.”

“That’s not Officer Smith in Midland deciding he wants to conduct an immigration raid in a parking lot,” he said.

But Perales said there’s nothing in the law that explains that in detail, adding to the argument that its vagueness opens the door to racial profiling.

“SB 4 is silent on that,” she said. “It doesn’t say at the federal government’s request or under federal supervision.”

There was also a focus on the special circumstances surrounding El Paso County and a settlement it agreed to in 2006. A local resident sued the county that year and accused sheriffs’ deputies of conducting immigration checks at roadside checkpoints. The parties reached an agreement: The sheriff’s office had to “memorialize in writing its policies that prohibits Sheriffs Department Deputies from enforcing civil immigration law.”

El Paso County attorney JoAnn Bernal said SB 4 would place the county in jeopardy because of the dueling mandates.

Toward the end of the day, the plaintiffs tried to show the bill was rushed through the Legislative process and had an obvious racist intent. State Rep. Ana Hernandez, D-Houston, was called to testify on the process and told the court that SB 4 was deemed an “emergency item” that created a toxic environment on the House floor. She recalled how her colleague Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, warned their Republican colleagues that Hispanic members shouldn’t be heckled that day because they were fed up with what she deemed anti-Latino sentiment.

Hernandez also became emotional on the stand after explaining that as a former undocumented immigrant, the debate over SB4 had a very personal effect on her.

And at least one elected official seems hellbent on holding out against enforcing the law for as long as he can: Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. The Democrat testified that he hasn’t researched provisions in the bill that allow local entities to apply for grants to help them pay for housing inmates subject to a detainer. He said that was because he was hoping the law wouldn’t go into effect. He also said he’s heard anecdotally from that the bill has already affected tourism and, in turn, the local economy. He also scoffed at the language in the bill that would try to silence his personal opinions. 

“Endorsement means I have a right to say what I want to say,” he told the court. Later, when asked by an attorney for the state of Texas how he would like to be addressed, Wolff quipped: “I don’t know — you may have to address me as a former public official soon.”

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Trump administration weighs in on sanctuary cities court battle

The Trump administration has officially entered the courtroom battle over Senate Bill 4, Texas’ immigration-enforcement bill.

On Friday, attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the federal court case. The state was sued over the measure last month, the day after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the controversial bill into law. 

Known as the “sanctuary cities” bill, the legislation allows local law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they legally detain or arrest. It also punishes local government department heads and elected officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration “detainers” — request by agents to turn over immigrants subject to possible deportation. 

Opponents of the measure, including the cities of Houston, Austin and San Antonio, as well as Webb County’s El Cenizo and Maverick and El Paso counties, argue in court filings that the law violates several provisions of the U.S. Constitution, including guarantees of equal protection and freedom of speech. The opponents also argue that the law violates the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which states that federal law — including statutes dealing with immigration enforcement — is “wholly dedicated to the federal government and may not be usurped by the states.”

In its filing, the Justice Department argues the bill is constitutional and that Texas’ new law is not preempted by federal immigration law. The administration claims that the 10th Amendment guarantees states the right to craft their own legislation to a certain degree, and that SB 4 is valid. 

“It’s reassuring to know that the Trump administration believes in upholding the Constitution and defending the rule of law, and I’m grateful for the DOJ’s assistance in helping my office defend the lawful Senate Bill 4,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a news release.

In its filing, the Justice Department also addressed some SB 4 opponents’ claims that federal detainers aren’t enforceable because they are merely requests and not actual court orders.

Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement “only issues detainers when there is probable cause on the face of the detainer to arrest an individual on the basis that he is a removable alien, and the detainer is accompanied by an administrative warrant,” the filing states. 

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia has scheduled a Monday hearing to consider plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction to stop SB 4 from taking effect as the court case plays out. The bill’s effective date is Sept. 1. 

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Texas business groups are banding together to keep NAFTA strong

Despite uncertainty on how the Trump administration will renegotiate the United States’ role in the North American Free Trade Agreement, two-way trade between Texas and Mexico has continued to flourish since the president was sworn in in January.

Now, a number of Texas-based business groups have teamed up to prevent a reversal in that trend by making sure the state has a seat at the table now that Trump has told Congress his administration would begin renegotiating the 23-year-old trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Representatives from the Texas Association of Business, the El Paso-based Borderplex Alliance and the Texas Business Leadership Council announced on Thursday the creation of the Texas-Mexico Trade Coalition, a binational group of business interests that seeks to keep Mexico Texas’ No. 1 trade partner.

Coalition members said time isn’t necessarily on their side if they want to preserve the benefits and job growth NAFTA has brought to Texas and beyond.

“The failure to act swiftly will push us into not only the midterm elections in the United States but also the presidential election in Mexico,” said Eddie Aldrete, senior vice president of the International Bank of Commerce and chairman of the coalition. “So we need to pass NAFTA on its own merits, on its own timeframe.”

Aldrete said that will include working to amend the current agreement instead of overhauling it completely.

Texas has more to lose than any other state on the country’s southern border if NAFTA is reworked in a way that decreases trade between the two countries. From January to April of this year, more than $178 billion in two-way trade has passed through ports in the United States and Mexico, according to WorldCity, a Florida-based economics think tank that uses U.S. Census data to track trade patterns. That figure represents a 4.5 percent increase compared to the same timeframe in 2016.

About $94 billion of 2017’s trade has passed through the Laredo customs district, with another $29.5 billion passing through the El Paso customs district. The ports of Houston and Port Arthur are also in included in Mexico’s top 10 trading partners, ranking fifth with $6 billion and eighth with $1.95 billion, respectively.

Jeff Moseley, the CEO of the Texas Association of Business, said revamping NAFTA only makes sense because of how much industry and commerce has changed since pact went into effect in 1994.

“The document, as it was pulled together 23 years ago, did not contemplate that we would have so much development in technology,” he said. “It didn’t contemplate that the Mexican Constitution would have been amended to allow for energy exploration. So there are new opportunities to bring forward.”

Moseley added he was reassured the federal government would listen to stakeholders on the ground after he met with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who said he’d take a “do-no-harm” approach.

But business leaders are also careful not to assume the United States has complete control over the negotiations. Just last month, Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo said the country could look to expand trade with China if the United States insisted on trade policies that were not mutually beneficial, CNBC reported. The Mexican government could also explore expanding trade with South American countries as another option.

“It’s always a concern. It’s always out there as a potential threat to our economic interest in the United States,” Alderete said of Guajardo’s comments. Asked if he thought if the Mexican secretary spoke more out of a sense of national pride, Aldrerte said it didn’t matter.

“Whatever his motivation was, it certainly got the attention of a lot of people in the business community to then turn around and push our own administration to focus on the timeline and move quickly,” he said. “From a logistical standpoint, Mexico and the United States would prefer to do business with each other.”

Disclosure: The Texas Association of Business and Texas Business Leadership Council have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.

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Lawyers convention leaves Texas over state’s new immigration law

A 15,000-member association of attorneys and law professors said on Wednesday that it is relocating its 2018 convention out of Texas in response to the state legislature passing Senate bill 4, a sweeping and controversial immigration enforcement measure.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association was scheduled to hold its 3-day event in Grapevine next year, but said the bill’s “dangerous, destructive and counter productive proposals” go against the group’s mission. About 3,000 people were expected to attend the convention.

“One of the issues that drove the board’s decision was concern on behalf of quite a number of our members that they might not be willing to bring themselves or their families to Texas,” AILA president Bill Stock told reporters during a conference call. “Our members are US citizens and green card holders but many of them come from ethnic communities where they felt that they [would] being unfairly targeted.”

SB 4 allows law enforcement to question the immigration status of people they legally detain or arrest and punishes department heads and elected officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents by turning over immigrants subject to possible deportation. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the legislation last month and it is scheduled to go into effect on September 1.

Abbott and other supporters of the measure say its needed to make Texas safer and crack down on illegal immigration but opponents argue the bill’s vague language will lead to racial profiling and other discriminatory practices.

The AILA Grapevine conference was booked years ago. The organization could face financial penalties for relocating, Stock said, but the group chose to cancel the event anyway due to the new law.

The association’s announcement comes the same day that U.S. Sens. Bob Menedez, D-New Jersey, and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, asked the organizers of Austin’s popular South by Southwest conference to move out of Austin after decades of calling the capital city home.

The mega-event is one of the state’s signature attractions and includes weeks-long activities that include conferences on education and interactive developments, as well as film and music showcases.

“In its 31 years, SXSW has been a beacon of consistency, standing with artists and participants regarding equality, tolerance, and safety during events,” the senators wrote. “SB4, however, would not allow SXSW to be a safe place for immigrants and Americans alike to visit, participate, and enjoy; the culture and safety of the event would be greatly diminished if your attendants are faced with the humiliation and harassment that this new law would inflict.”

But SXSW co-founder and CEO Roland Swenson said the conference is staying put, but he and his supporters will continue to speak out against the law from home base

“We stand by the City of Austin in their challenge against SB4 and will continue to speak out against it, and all discriminatory legislation,” he said in an email. “We agree with the Senators that the law stands diametrically opposed to the spirit of SXSW and respect their call to action. We understand why, in today’s political climate, people are asking us to leave Texas. For us this is not a solution. Austin is our home and an integral part of who we are. We will stay here and continue to make our event inclusive while fighting for the rights of all.”

Several local governments, including the cities of San Antonio, Austin and El Cenizo and both El Paso and Maverick counties, have filed lawsuits to stop the bill from taking effect. The state of Texas has also filed its own preemptive action and has asked a judge to declare the bill legal and constitutional.

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