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Texas Sues San Antonio Over Sanctuary City Violation

Ryan Poppe
Texas Public Radio
Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit in Travis County district court against San Antonio.

Updated 4:36 p.m.

Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit in Travis County district court against San Antonio, its police department, chief of police and city manager, to require their compliance with Senate Bill 4, which prohibits sanctuary cities in Texas, according to a news release.

READ | Lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

On Dec. 23, 2017, the San Antonio Police Department found a trailer with 12 people inside. Police Chief William McManus charged the driver with state-level human smuggling but did not pursue the case at the federal level. After questioning at police headquarters, the migrants were released and several went with Catholic Charities. 

According to the release, "McManus refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities who were alerted by one of his officers, and instead ordered the 12 suspected illegal aliens released from custody, in violation of Senate Bill 4."

“Senate Bill 4 guarantees cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement to protect Texans,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “Unfortunately, some municipalities, such as San Antonio, put the safety of police officers and the public at risk by defying state law. The court should grant our request for injunctions and civil penalties against San Antonio to send a message that all Texas cities must obey the law.”

RELATEDTexas Attorney General Investigating San Antonio Human Smuggling IncidentAppeals Court Upholds Most of Texas' Anti-Sanctuary Cities Bill

Paxton’s lawsuit accuses McManus of "skirting normal San Antonio Police Department protocol by arranging for immigration attorneys from an activist group to provide the suspected aliens with legal advice and to act as a translator."

"The police chief called a private entity to take the aliens away from Immigration and Customs Enforcement," the release said. "McManus and his subordinates never checked the criminal history of the suspected aliens, nor did they contact Texas Child Protective Services to investigate the safety of a minor who was being smuggled."

In response to the lawsuit, San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia said, "While we need time to review the complaint, we are fully confident that neither the city nor Chief McManus violated the applicable provisions of SB 4."

"The attorney general's characterizations of what happened that day are clearly aimed at furthering a political agenda," Segovia said. "The city has a long history of cooperating with federal authorities and we will continue to do so.

"The city's process for handling human smuggling, trafficking incidents was created in coordination with the federal government, and federal officials have not taken issue with our handling of immigration issues.”

San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley said neither the city nor its police chief violated provision within SB4.

“We followed the policies of the city, the state, and the federal government," she said. "In fact, we worked with the federal government by developing the protocols for how we handle those developments and we think this will be dismissed.”

WATCH | A statement from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton


Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules
Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.