Judge rules Bexar Co. ICE detainer policy violated man's rights

Senate Bill 4 is on track to become law on September 1.  Governor Greg Abbott signed the anti-sanctuary cities bill on Facebook Live last month.

"It ensures that law enforcement officers in Texas can and will cooperate with ICE.  It also requires sheriffs to honor ICE detainer requests," Abbott said. 

Austin immigration attorney Thomas Esparza is not in favor of SB4.  But he said lately he's been spending a lot of time telling people they don't have to be afraid. 

His clients are constantly wondering what to do if they're asked to "show their papers."

"I say 'show them your papers,' tell them you've lived here for 15 years and you've got four kids and your husband's got a Green Card and you've been waiting in line forever to get your papers.  You've got to tell them that stuff.  If you maintain your Constitutional right to be silent they're going to have to take you downtown to run your fingerprints to see who the Hell you are," Esparza said.

But SB4's journey to becoming law may not be a walk in the park. 

Last week San Antonio U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Bexar County's policy of honoring ICE detainer requests, violated a man named Julio Trujilllo Santoyo's fourth and 14th amendment rights resulting in Trujillo's unlawful detention.  Santoyo was arrested in January 2016 for misdemeanor assault.  The charge was dismissed 3 months later but he wasn't released.

Judge Garcia wrote "In short, the county's assumption that probable cause must exist to detain any individual for whom it receives an ICE detainer request was unreasonable.  Its routine detention of such individuals made it inevitable that it would engage in warrantless detention of individuals who were not suspected of any criminal offense."

"It's good news to know that a judge, especially a judge that's going to be hearing the overall challenges to the state policy, that that judge feels this way about that particular section of the immigration act," Esparza said.

In two weeks, Judge Garcia is expected to hear several of the lawsuits challenging SB4.

"What that means is there is a very high probability that he is going to find that it is not constitutional to make law enforcement officers obey a law that is not mandatory okay?  So I think it means that people can be safe for a while, SB4 would have to be re-written," Esparza said.

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