The office of the Texas Attorney General can no better predict when the Dallas Cowboys will win the Super Bowl than it can how an appeals court will rule on an immigration case that could have statewide repercussions.
That assessment from Faye M. Kolly, a senior immigration attorney with De Mott, McChesney, Curtright, & Armendáriz LLP, comes in response to a letter Attorney General Ken Paxton sent to lawmakers earlier this month reassuring them that Senate Bill 4, which seeks to ban “sanctuary” counties and campuses in Texas, would withstand an inevitable court challenge.
The bill by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, seeks to punish local entities if their law enforcement agencies fail to honor requests, known as detainers, from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to hand over immigrants in custody for possible deportation. It would also punish entities that enact policies preventing local law enforcement from asking about immigration status.
Paxton’s reassurances — an unusual communication from the attorney general’s office — came last week after a 16-hour-long hearing featuring testimony from various immigration attorneys, Kolly among them, warning that the bill would lead to costly lawsuits that Texas was likely to lose.
“Our review of the law concludes CSSB 4 is constitutional, there are viable methods for covered entities to avoid liability regarding invalid detainers, and the remainder of the legal concerns are unfounded,” Paxton wrote.
Paxton’s letter to senators prompted the partners of Kolly’s firm to respond in kind, hoping their experience in this legal area would persuade undecided lawmakers that the bill both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have declared a priority of the session is not worth the effort.
Senators were unfazed and passed the measure last week on a party-line, 20-11 vote, sending it to the lower chamber for consideration.
Kolly said the attorneys will now try and convince House members to reject the bill, again pressing the argument that doing so would allow the state to avoid costly legal challenges and the possible erosion of Texans’ Fourth Amendment rights.
“[Paxton’s assertions] are completely speculative, and case law is contrary to that speculation,” Kolly said.
See here for the background. The story details the legal arguments that Kolly pus forth, which I am not qualified to evaluate. Given her seeming disdain for Paxton’s opinion, perhaps the Senate would have been wise to engage an attorney who isn’t an obvious homer. Assuming they wanted facts and not merely what they wanted to hear, of course. None of this matters until it gets to a courtroom, but at least we know it’s not as clear and easy as Ken Paxton would like you to think.