Attorneys for the state of Texas were set to head back before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Tuesday to defend the state’s new immigration enforcement law, Senate Bill 4, against charges that the measure is discriminatory and violates the U.S. Constitution, reports the Texas Tribune .
Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 4 into law in May, but several local governments filed suit to block the measure from going into effect.
As passed, SB 4 allows local law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they detain or arrest and punishes local government department heads and elected officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration “detainers” — requests by agents to turn over immigrants subject to possible deportation — in the form of jail time and penalties that exceed $25,000.
There’s no way to predict when a ruling will be made after Tuesday’s arguments, says Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing several of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
But the 5th Circuit’s eventual ruling might not be the last word, says Saenz, because either side could petition the U.S. Supreme Court to make the final determination on whether Texas can craft its own immigration-enforcement provisions and how far-reaching they can be.
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