Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a lawsuit in Travis County district court against the city of San Antonio, its police department, chief of police and city manager, to require their compliance with Senate Bill 4. Enacted by the Legislature last session, Senate Bill 4 prohibits sanctuary cities in Texas. Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld virtually all of the law.
Last December, police happened upon a dozen suspected illegal aliens – who appeared to be part of a human smuggling operation – in the back of a tractor-trailer in San Antonio. San Antonio Police Chief William 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.
The attorney general’s lawsuit asks the district court to issue an injunction requiring Chief McManus and San Antonio to comply with Senate Bill 4, prohibit the police department from thwarting federal immigration enforcement, and assess civil penalties against the city, police department and Chief McManus.
“Senate Bill 4 guarantees cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement to protect Texans,” Attorney General 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.”
Based on a sworn complaint, Attorney General Paxton’s office conducted an extensive investigation into the case, concluding that Chief McManus and the police department violated Senate Bill 4’s mandates by prohibiting and materially limiting the enforcement of immigration laws and cooperation with federal immigration officials.
Attorney General Paxton’s lawsuit accuses Chief 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. 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.
As a result, “today there is no criminal case filed against the individual who transported the suspected aliens as part of a smuggling operation despite his confession,” the lawsuit states.
View a copy of the lawsuit here: