May 9 (UPI) -- Texas' attorney general sued local jurisdictions in the Austin area in a preemptive bid to uphold a new state law against "sanctuary cities."
Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on Monday, one day after Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that bars so-called sanctuary cities, which decline with federal immigration agents. That includes requiring local law enforcement officers asking about the immigration status of anyone they stop.
In the state law, the officers who don't cooperate could face jail time and fines up to $25,000 per day.
"[Senate bill] 4 is constitutional, lawful and a vital step in securing our borders," Paxton said in a statement. "Unfortunately, some municipalities and law enforcement agencies are unwilling to cooperate with the federal government and claim that SB 4 is unconstitutional."
The law goes in effect on Sept. 1.
The suit was a preemptive efforts that seeks a ruling in a single court on the constitutionality of the new law. It avoids individual lawsuits against the state in different courts.
Paxton said the suit is valid under the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
"Governments throughout Texas have a clear duty to continue holding undocumented and suspected criminal aliens pursuant to ICE detainers," he said. "This is a public safety issue that requires swift resolution. If a Texas sheriff or other law enforcement authority cannot lawfully honor an ICE detainer, dangerous people will slip through the cracks of the justice system and back into our communities. As a nation of laws, it is imperative that SB 4 is fully honored in Texas."
Named in the suit are the city of Austin and the county where it is located, Travis. The lawsuit said Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez has a policy and practice of refusing to comply with SB 4.
Hernandez said the county would follow the terms of the new law -- even though she opposes it. She had wanted limited cooperation with federal immigration agents.
"Racial discrimination is not a substantial or motivating factor behind SB 4 and Texas law," he wrote. "The historical background of SB 4 does not indicate discriminatory intent."
The Austin police department issued a statement saying it's reviewing the language of the newly approved law.
But Austin City Council member Greg Casar, who is named in the lawsuit with the rest of the council, spoke out against the suit.
"The governor and his cronies clearly are worried about the constitutionality and popularity of their law," Casar said to the Austin American-Statesman. "I think it's fair to say, coming from my conversations with leaders from all over the state, they are very interested in questioning the constitutionality of this."
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 25 to compel U.S. cities to cooperate with federal authorities by threatening to withhold billions of dollars in federal financial assistance.
But on Sept. 25, U.S. District Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California issued an injunction against Trump's order