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Austin Judge To Decide Venue For State's Sanctuary Cities Lawsuit

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Ryan Poppe
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Austin Federal Courthouse

A federal judge in Austin heard arguments Thursday concerning the state’s anti-sanctuary cities law, just days after arguments were heard in San Antonio federal court.  

The multi-city lawsuit against the State of Texas asks that SB4, the anti-sanctuary cities law, be declared unconstitutional.  The suit was filed in federal court in San Antonio.  But the Texas Attorney General’s Office argued before Federal District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin that because the lawsuit involves state elected officials it should take place in the capitol city.

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Credit Ryan Poppe
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Rene Hicks, Austin attorney representing City of El Cenizo and Maverick County.

Rene Hicks is an attorney representing the City of El Cenizo and Maverick County in an effort to keep the constitutional challenge in San Antonio.

“To change venue, the judge first has to basically say he has jurisdiction over the case.  I think the judge said as many ways as he can, he’s highly dubious he has jurisdiction in case," Hicks says.

If Judge Sparks decides to take up the case, he is also being asked by the AG’s Office to have the original lawsuit thrown out by declaring the law constitutional.  

The law itself, which takes effect on Sept. 1st, will allow local police to question someone about their immigration status even during something as routine as a traffic stop.  It requires local officials to comply with all federal immigration requests to detain someone.

The judge did not provide a timeline for when he might rule on the State’s requests.  The AG’s Office refused to comment until after the judge has ruled on the matter.