Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced his office will start accepting complaints against alleged violators of Senate Bill 4.
His announcement follows a court ruling Monday that allowed some provisions of the new state sanctuary cities law to take effect for now.
But critics say even if the attorney general wants to do something, there's no teeth to the law as it stands right now.
Domingo Garcia is a Dallas activist and outspoken critic of SB 4. He is not disappointed after an appeals court ruling allowed parts of the Senate bill to take effect.
“In my opinion, it’s a win,” he said. “Why Mr. Paxton is trying to spin a loss into a win? I have no idea.”
The decision by the fifth circuit court in New Orleans says the state can enforce part of the law that requires local law enforcement to comply with federal immigration detainer requests.
Last month, a civil rights group sued, and a judge ruled in its favor, blocking the law which was supposed to take effect on September 1
Paxton dubbed the fifth circuit decision a victory. On Tuesday, his office announced it is ready to investigate reports that the law is being violated.
“By enforcing the key provisions of SB 4, we will prevent dangerous criminals from being released back into our Texas communities,” he said.
Paxton’s office wrote, “the law authorizes the attorney general to pursue civil penalties against or remove from office local entities and officials who adopt or enforce policies prohibiting the enforcement of federal immigration laws and detainers.”
Garcia, an attorney himself, says Paxton can take complaints, but there's no point.
“The fifth circuit was very clear that none of the enforcement parts of SB4 could be used,” Garcia said. “So he can take a complaint, but nobody can be removed from office. Nobody can be fined.”
Though the future of the sanctuary cities law is unknown, law enforcement agencies have been preparing for it.
The Republican sheriff in Tarrant County has trained 12 jailers to identify inmates who are in the country illegally, something normally the work of the feds. This month, Irving police held a town hall meeting to answer questions about its enforcement.
Monday’s court ruling is just temporary. A panel of judges in New Orleans will hear the case on November 6 and then make a ruling. There's the possibility it could get kicked up to the supreme court after that.