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El Paso leaders react after federal appellate court grants temporary stay on ruling by federal judge regarding SB 4

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- El Paso Democrats and Republicans spoke to ABC-7 Sunday, after a federal appellate court granted a temporary stay on last week's ruling by a federal judge in Austin. The ruling by Judge David Ezra blocked a controversial Texas immigration law from going into effect on March 5.

Texas's Senate Bill 4 would add another layer of criminal penalties for migrants who cross into the U.S. illegally through the state. It would also allow local law enforcement to enact federal immigration law.

SB 4, signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in December, has come under fire by the political left for being 'unconstitutional and incomplete.' Democrats have argued that the law would have several seemingly unintended consequences, including a rise in racial profiling.

Several entities, including El Paso County and the El Paso-based Las Americas Immigration Advocacy Center, have sued the State of Texas in response to the law.

UTEP Professor and Director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies, Dr. Richard Pineda, said the stay is in response to the lawsuits against SB 4, as conservatives strategize how to make sure the law does go into effect. He said the fact that the current U.S. Supreme Court is a conservative body, which could impact the outcome of this issue.

"As a conservative court, ideally, they would return to sort of protecting the federal government. But, you know, it's anybody's guess. I mean, we've seen some decisions come out that clearly indicate a very conservative perspective on some of these issues," Pineda said.

Despite Democratic efforts to block the law from going into effect, El Paso County Commissioner David Stout said he was told about the appellate court's intention over the weekend.

"Even though it is a more conservative court, we have to trust in the fact that they won't play politics," said Stout. ""The ball will be in their court. And you know, it is concerning. But again, we have to do what we can. We cannot allow this law to go into effect. Not only is it unconstitutional, but it is incomplete."

The left has long argued SB 4 is unconstitutional. They cite immigration being the responsibility of the federal government.

But Republicans argue that it is constitutional, because of the way President Joe Biden has handled things on the southern border.

"I think the appellate court recognizes -- and this is federal, this is not state, these are federal -- that the federal government... is not complying with the laws of this country. And I think it's reasonable for people to understand that if the federal government does not take on their responsibilities: And without a doubt, immigration is their responsibility. But they're not taking it on, and the state has the right to do so," said Adolpho Telles, the Chairman for El Paso County's Republican Party.

Democrats are against SB 4 for several reasons.

"If this law goes into effect, we're going to see much more racial profiling, our county jails are going to be overrun with folks that are not criminals," said Stout. "We cannot handle the financial burden that this will bring upon us in El Paso County."

Republicans disagree, arguing it is a matter of reallocating funds.

"Our County Commissioners think we can't afford it. Well, if they look at what it's costing us for the medical care for these people, when they come across the border. If they look at the money that's being collected and provided for NGOs," said Telles. "It's a reallocation to put money where it belongs, which is supporting the citizens of this county."

ABC-7 also reached out to Las Americas, Judge Joe Moody, and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar for comment. Only Las Americas responded as of the publication of this article. They were not available Sunday, but said they would try to get back to ABC-7 Monday.

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Kerry Mannix


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