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Judicial Watch • State Legislatures Can Stop Sanctuary Cities

State Legislatures Can Stop Sanctuary Cities

State Legislatures Can Stop Sanctuary Cities

SEPTEMBER 22, 2008

The attorney general in a border state invaded by illegal immigrants is investigating whether the legislature has the authority to prohibit local governments from serving as sanctuaries for undocumented persons.

The answer, researched and obtained by Judicial Watch, is a resounding yes. Judicial Watch has joined forces with a pair of Texas groups committed to securing the border to help confront a crisis created by the 1.5 illegal immigrants who live in the Lone Star State with the help of sanctuary cities.

The controversial issue has become a coast-to-coast epidemic featuring municipalities that provide safe havens and U.S. taxpayer-financed benefits to millions of illegal aliens who are guaranteed that they won’t be turned in to federal authorities. In most cases, local police is forbidden from inquiring about a suspects’ legal status which has led to the release of violent offenders who go on to further victimize innocent Americans.

Texas has about a dozen illegal immigrant sanctuary cities—including the state capital of Austin, Dallas, Houston and Ft. Worth—and two Republican legislators want to challenge the local ordinances. The lawmakers have asked Attorney General Greg Abbot whether the Texas Legislature has the authority to deter local governments from adopting policies that hinder the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The attorney general has looked to groups that seek to end illegal immigration for input on the matter. Judicial Watch has taken the lead, thoroughly researching specific titles of the United States Code as well as relevant case law and federal legislative action. The results are laid out in an informative six-page letter sent to the attorney general this week.

Judicial Watch essentially confirmed that sanctuary policies adopted by local governments violate federal law because they proscribe any restrictions or limitations by a local government entity on communication between police and federal immigration authorities. Technically, the sanctuary policies of local governments are void because they are preempted by federal law.

It hasn’t stopped dozens of municipalities across the U.S. from adopting these measures to protect illegal aliens, however. Practically every state has at least a few sanctuary cities and California, New York, Texas and New Jersey lead the nation with the most.


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