- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions commended Texas lawmakers for adopting anti-sanctuary city legislation this year and said he was “confident” the state would prevail in its legal battle to see the law upheld.

“I am well aware that this law has its critics. And I am more than familiar with their line of criticism. But the facts of the case are clearly on Texas’ side,” Mr. Sessions told a crowd of law enforcement leaders during a visit to Austin, Texas, on Friday.

Texas’ four largest cities sued in an effort to block implementation of the law, Senate Bill 4, arguing it is unconstitutional and undermines local municipalities’ sovereignty by forcing them to carry out the agenda of the federal government. The Justice Department has backed Texas as it defends the legality of the law.

The law prevents municipalities from implementing policies that block local law enforcement officials from sharing immigration-related information with federal immigration officials and gives the state the option to fine jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate — even allowing the state to threaten uncooperative law enforcement officers with jail time.

A federal appeals court has thus far allowed key parts of the legislation to take effect — including requiring localities to hold on to illegal immigrants for pickup by deportation officers. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments on the merits of the case Nov. 7.

Mr. Sessions said Friday that the outcome of the case could have national implications.

“We believe that the outcome is important not just to the state of Texas, but to the national interest,” he said. “The integrity of our immigration laws is not a local issue — it is a national issue.”

While Texas is seeking to keep in place a law that would crack down on sanctuary policies, other jurisdictions across the country have resisted the Trump administration’s efforts to target and deport illegal immigrants.

As part of an effort to compel cooperation with federal immigration authorities, the Justice Department has threatened to cut off some federal public safety grants to uncooperative jurisdictions and is currently embroiled in legal battles over the policy.

Mr. Sessions used Friday’s event to ask non-compliant jurisdictions to cooperate with federal authorities.

“I would urge every so-called ‘sanctuary’ jurisdiction to reconsider their policies,” he said. “So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies risk the safety of good law enforcement officers and the safety of the neighborhoods that need their protection the most.”

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