Officials: Harris County will not join lawsuit in state’s sanctuary cities law

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas -- Harris County commissioners have decided against joining a lawsuit against the state's controversial sanctuary cities law.

"There was a motion made at Commissioners Court today by Commissioner Rodney Ellis to sue on SB4. Judge Emmett asked if there was a 2nd. No second was made and therefore the motion died. No further action was taken," county officials released in a statement.

"Sanctuary city" is a broad term applied to jurisdictions with policies in place to limit cooperation or involvement with federal immigration actions. Many US cities, counties and some states have a myriad of informal policies and laws that qualify as "sanctuary" positions.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said the bill -- which is called the 'show me your papers measure' -- "encourages racial profiling by untrained immigration agents" and it "removes democratically elected representatives from office should they fail to comply."

Federal order to strip sanctuary city funding on hold

The Texas law is the first one of its kind to be signed since President Donald Trump signed an executive order intended to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities in January.

Trump's order said it would "strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants," press secretary Sean Spicer said.

The order declared that entities labeled "sanctuary jurisdictions" by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security will be "not eligible" for federal grants. The order also directed the Office of Management and Budget to compile a list of federal grant money currently being doled out to sanctuary jurisdictions.

In March, US. Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to cut federal funds from the so-called sanctuary cities and states that will not comply with immigration laws.

At the time, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott applauded Sessions' actions.

"After years of the previous administration turning a blind eye to this issue, the federal government is sending a clear and necessary message that the laws of this land are going to be enforced," the governor said then.

A federal judge recently blocked the Trump administration from enforcing its threat to take away funds from sanctuary cities.

Judge William H. Orrick, in his ruling, sided with jurisdictions such as Santa Clara County in California and the city of San Francisco, who argued that a threat to take away federal funds from cities that do not cooperate with some federal immigration enforcement could be unconstitutional.

In making the ruling apply nationwide, Orrick blocked the government from enforcing a key part of Trump's executive order on immigration, which ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department to block cities that don't cooperate with federal immigration enforcement from receiving federal funds.