U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday commended Texas lawmakers for taking a "leadership role" in fighting jurisdictions that oppose President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
“We will not concede a single block or street corner in the United States of America to lawlessness," he said at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Austin. "Nor will we tolerate the loss of innocent life because a handful of jurisdictions believe they are above the law.”
Sessions was referring to sanctuary city policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration officials.
In May, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4, which requires jurisdictions such as Travis County to honor all federal requests to hold suspected undocumented immigrants past their release date.
"[Sanctuary city] policies hinder the work of federal law enforcement; they’re contrary to the rule of law, and they have serious consequences for the law-abiding Texans," Sessions said Friday.
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez said she could not disagree more strongly with a claim by the attorney general that SB 4 makes communities safer. She has said such policies drive immigrants into the shadows and reduce cooperation with law enforcement.
The City of Austin joined other cities suing to prevent SB 4 from going into effect Sept. 1. A judge put parts of the law on hold while the case is heard. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear the case next month.
The Trump administration has filed an amicus brief in the case in support of Texas.
"We believe that the outcome is important not just to the state of Texas, but to the national interest," Sessions said Friday. "The integrity of our immigration laws is not a local issue – it is a national issue."