State District Judge Tim Sulak dismissed three claims in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s first sanctuary city lawsuit on July 2, the San Antonio News-Express reported.
Paxton alleges that San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and his officers impeded the enforcement of federal immigration laws by releasing 12 people who may have been in the country illegally.
The incident that spurred the lawsuit occurred in December 2017, when San Antonio police took into custody a dozen passengers of a tractor-trailer used to smuggle migrants. Officers interviewed the passengers and then released them to immigration attorneys and advocates, the newspaper reported.
Paxton argued that McManus ignored requests from Homeland Security to investigate the incident. The police chief said at the time that agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement were on the scene and could have investigated, but ICE officials said they offered their assistance and officers declined.
The AG filed suit last November after the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 4, which penalizes local officials for policies that could restrict immigration law enforcement.
The newspaper reported that Sulak ruled SB4 can’t be enforced now because federal courts had temporarily blocked the relevant portions of the law. A federal appeals court reinstated the law in March 2018 after a lower court repealed it; the tractor-trailer incident occurred while the law was not in effect.
Two claims that were dismissed alleged that McManus and his officers, at his directive, “materially limited” immigration law enforcement. Sulak also dismissed a third claim that San Antonio has a policy in its general police manual that could hinder cooperation with federal immigration officials.
One issue of the suit remains: whether the city has a general policy against cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement, a claim that city officials deny.
“It’s a strong development for us,” Andy Segovia, San Antonio’s city attorney, told the Express-News of Sulak’s ruling. “It doesn’t resolve it completely, but it’s good momentum.”