Deep in the heart of Texas, San Antonio city officials are thumbing their noses at the state’s anti-sanctuary law by offering free legal services for illegal aliens.
The Alamo City, which is challenging Senate Bill 4 in federal court, created a new position of Immigration Community Liaison and diverted $150,000 from the general fund to pay for the “free” services.
San Antonio is subsidizing three private organizations that cater to illegals: American Gateways, Catholic Charities and the Refugee & Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).
“Why should taxpayers who pay federal taxes to enforce immigration laws also pay local taxes to defend illegal aliens?” asks George Rodriguez, a San Antonio activist.
Excellent question. Turns out that Keeping-It-Weird Austin isn’t the only blue island in Texas’ sea of red.
This month, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of the Texas law outlawing sanctuary cities. Judges are still weighing the section that holds local officials liable for “adopting, enforcing or endorsing” policies that prohibit or circumvent the enforcement of immigration laws.
Logically interpreted, that section discourages, if not outlaws, taxpayer-funded services for illegals. Whether San Antonio is violating the letter of the law, the city’s legal-aid gambit is a clear attempt to subvert SB 4’s intent of facilitating cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.
City Attorney Andy Segovia insists that San Antonio’s program “does not violate SB 4 in design and practice.” Besides, he notes, “The Immigration and Nationality Act does not define the term ‘illegal immigrant.’”
“The initiation of deportation proceedings against a person is not evidence of illegal status any more than being charged with a crime at an arraignment is evidence that a person is a criminal,” Segovia asserted. “Until the government meets its burden of proving that a person is deportable from the United States they are not ‘illegal.’”
In its defense of illegally present aliens, San Antonio touts itself as a “SAFE (Safety and Fairness for Everyone) City.” Last year, it obtained a $100,000 grant from the Vera Institute of Justice to expand legal services for illegals.
Yet San Antonio, like sanctuary jurisdictions across the country, is anything but safe. Home to an estimated 85,000 illegal aliens, the city ranked worst among large U.S. cities for “serious crimes” in a 2017 FBI report.
Flouting national and state laws while abusing taxpayers under the guise of “local control” has become standard operating procedure for progressives who dominate San Antonio politics. No one should expect otherwise from Mayor Ron Nirenberg, whose chief of policy was an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a prime litigator in the fight against SB 4