After filing a $150 million lawsuit against the City of San Antonio in 2018, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced a settlement in his favor this week.

Paxton initiated the lawsuit after San Antonio Chief of Police William McManus released 12 illegal aliens discovered in a tractor-trailer within city limits. Additionally, city officials contacted several nonprofits to transport the individuals rather than reaching out to federal authorities.

Consequently, Paxton sued Chief McManus, the police department, the city, and the city manager, accusing them of violating Senate Bill 4, commonly referred to as Texas’ sanctuary city law.

The bill, passed in 2017, requires local governments to cooperate with federal authorities when dealing with illegal immigrants. Additionally, the legislation permits police to ask detainees for their immigration status and prohibits cities from creating policies to prevent the practice. Any city violating Senate Bill 4 could face fines of up to $25,000.

These new guidelines prevented cities from shielding illegal immigrants and becoming sanctuary cities.

Senate Bill 4 faced immediate opposition, with a federal lower court judge blocking the law from going into effect after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill. A federal appeals court later reversed the federal judge’s ruling, but did strike down a part of the legislation that prevented city officials from “endorsing” policies limiting the enforcement of immigration laws. The court ruled that the stipulation violated officials’ First Amendment rights.

Paxton’s lawsuit accused San Antonio of violating the sanctuary city law by releasing the 12 illegal aliens instead of detaining them and contacting federal authorities.

Both the city and Chief McManus claimed that they did not have the legal authority to hold the illegal immigrants in custody after the initial interview process, which prevented them from involving federal authorities before releasing the detainees.

However, this week’s settlement included victories for Paxton. In addition to paying $300,000 to the attorney general’s office, San Antonio will change its policing practices and other city policies to comply with Senate Bill 4. In return, Paxton’s office will drop its lawsuit against the city and a second lawsuit calling for Chief McManus’ firing.

The settlement also allows Paxton’s office to monitor San Antonio and ensure that any new policies are in compliance with federal authorities and the sanctuary city law.

Paxton touted the settlement as a win for the attorney general’s office and explained how cities that protect illegal aliens endanger Texans across the state.

“It is time for cities like San Antonio to wake up and realize their misguided approach to immigration is not only reckless, but it has also made the influx of dangerous narcotics and human trafficking much worse,” said Paxton. “I have fought relentlessly to secure our border, and I will continue to take essential steps to protecting every city in our great state.”

Katy Drollinger

Katy is eager to use her skills in writing and research to accurately report on issues for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.

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