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SB 4 Lawsuit Is Filed, as Texas Agenda Faces Court Challenges

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Republicans have been pushing an aggressive agenda despite promised court challenges, including legislation that would let police ask drivers whether they’re in the U.S. legally, restrict what school bathrooms transgender students can use, ban most second-trimester abortions and let adoption agencies reject gay couples over religious objections.

Students gather on April 26 in the Texas Capitol to oppose SB 4, an anti-"sanctuary cities" bill, which became law in May. AP Photo by Eric Gay
Students gather on April 26 in the Texas Capitol to oppose SB 4, an anti-“sanctuary cities” bill, which became law in May. AP Photo by Eric Gay

The lawsuits have already begun: El Paso County and the Texas Organizing Project, a community group, on Monday asked a federal court to block SB 4, a “sanctuary cities” crackdown signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that opponents say invites racial profiling by police and will push immigrant crime victims further into the shadows.

Abortion rights groups, civil rights lawyers and LGBT organizations have also renewed pledges to take the state to court this summer following a whirlwind weekend in which the Republican-controlled Legislature pushed new anti-abortion bills, a religious objections bill and a so-called “bathroom bill” closer to Abbott’s desk before lawmakers adjourn May 29.

“I would think it’s unprecedented that this many actions by the Legislature will be contested in court,” said state Rep. Chris Turner, the Democratic leader in the Texas House of Representatives.

Texas is used to getting dragged into federal courts, which have weakened or dismantled some of the state’s most prominent Republican efforts in recent years. Federal judges this spring found intentional discrimination in the state’s voter ID law and Republican-drawn voting maps, and last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a sweeping Texas anti-abortion law that prompted more than half of the state’s abortion clinics to close.

Steamrolled by a dominant GOP majority in the Texas Legislature, Democrats have turned to federal courts as a refuge, but this summer could be particularly busy. Defending the laws is likely to cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in taxpayer money, depending on how long the cases last.

The likely challenges include a bill passed early Monday in the Senate that allows publicly funded foster care and adoption agencies to refuse to place children with non-Christian, unmarried or gay prospective parents because of religious objections. If passed, the law would be the nation’s second to let state-funded adoption agencies reject families on religious grounds, following South Dakota, where the legislation passed in March has made it too soon to measure its practical effects.

The Texas House on Monday also cleared a “bathroom bill” reminiscent of one that caused a national uproar last year in North Carolina, although less far-reaching. Under the Texas measure, transgender students at public and charter schools would not be permitted to use the bathroom of their choice, but could be directed to separate, single-occupancy restrooms. Lambda Legal, a national gay rights group, signaled a legal challenge after Republican members overwhelmingly sent the bill to the state Senate.

Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, said the rightward drift of the Legislature has left lawmakers OK with leaving some laws up the courts.

“None of these reps are going to lose their primary if the laws are blocked in the court,” Jones said. “They could lose their primary if they go against the bathroom bill, or against the abortion bill, or against the sanctuary city bill.”

Since Abbott signed the sanctuary city bill, the American Civil Liberties Union and big Texas cities have pledged lawsuits, while the state in turn has pre-emptively asked a federal court to declare the law constitutional. The law gives police the right to ask residency questions during any “lawful detention or arrest” and threatens police chiefs and sheriffs with jail time if they don’t comply with federal immigration agents.

On Monday, Abbott continued his defense of the bill, releasing a list of nearly two dozen police chiefs and law enforcement officials along the Texas-Mexico border signing onto a weekend editorial from Abbott in support of the law.

“Whether driven by misunderstanding or by purposeful fearmongering, those who are inflaming unrest place all who live in Texas at greater risk,” Abbott wrote.


Paul J. Weber of The Associated Press wrote this report. Equal Voice News contributed to it. 

6 Responses to "SB 4 Lawsuit Is Filed, as Texas Agenda Faces Court Challenges"

  1. M  July 21, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    Why assume that people who line up at food stamp offices are immigrants? If they have no social, they are not allowed to get food stamps, Medicaid or Medicare. Most immigrants pay taxes but don't get anything back. The people you see obviously DO have a social or ITN number or they would NOT be in the tax office, right? And if they are there, they have a W2 or 1099 so they are doing what they are suppose to with them. Like you do with your W2 or 1099 before the deadline. They pay into Medicare but are not entitled to it. So, actually they are paying for other peoples Medicare.

    If the process to be legal was easy, they would be. It is very expensive and takes years. Most do what they can to do things right. Don't assume that people with a different skin color are immigrants. They don't take our jobs! They work to earn the jobs they have and work hard to keep them. The people that don't work just don't try to get one because they are the ones dependent on food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and all the free stuff people with a social are entitled to.

  2. Dulce  July 14, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    Some people may be illegal, may steal Social Security numbers, may be criminals, but not all are the same. That is what they want you to understand. Yes they immigrated, but it's just to have a better life. They are working hard as much as all of us are. All of us struggle through money at times like them. Do you really think they come here just to steal your jobs? They come here because they will make money here, at least enough to pay or cook meals for [their] family. In fact they wouldn't be coming in this...country if it wasn't for the bad government they have. Some of them have been here so long and getting deported is just ruining their hard work. How would you like it if someone just came and ruined everything you worked hard on? If America had bad profit, would you immigrate to a different country to live better? Like they say, "Treat people the way you want to be treated." They are just normal people. I really hope you understand.

  3. E  July 14, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I do not think that any illegal should have any rights, no matter how long they have been here. These people come to our country, get on welfare, get checks for each child that they have, use social securities of deceased legal citizens, go to our schools and we have to accommodate them by learning their language and yet they cannot learn English. The ones that cry because they feel they should not be deported being here a long time, that is breaking the law. We have laws here in the USA. They want to stay, then abide [by] our laws and get legal. This way you will not have to worry.

  4. Holly  June 23, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    So misinformed and so judgemental. Illegals pay into the SS system but cannot file returns or get social security. Do YOU know how hard and how expensive it is to get through the process? Probably not! People are trying to survive and many of us do not believe that it is fair to "close the door" when it was open to our forefathers. Immigration should NOT be illegal.

  5. RD  June 7, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Where is my Voice?

    Illegal immigrants do not have constitutional rights

    If they are so poor, how is it they are out protesting every day, all day, and not working?

    Illegal Immigrants that desire to remain here need to join the military and fight our battles for us, put in what I have done and my forefathers have done. Yes, my forefathers were immigrants at some time, but they fought and bled for this country.

    They starved, sweated in the Depression. They have fought in every war this country has had. Illegal immigrants are lining up at the food stamp office, tax duty free office in the outlet malls in San Marcus, getting their money back on the taxes they spent.

    You cry out that you have been here your whole life and yet you are still an illegal immigrant. And why? So that you can enjoy the benefit of not being taxed while American tax dollars pay your way through life. I understand that living in other countries is not as great, but you come here with your hand out.

  6. Dave  June 3, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Sorry, illegal means illegal. Stop making it about fear and race. Murder is illegal. Theft is illegal. Rape is illegal. And coming into America without permission is illegal.


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