By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – The Trump administration filed court papers on Friday to support a Texas state law that would punish so-called “sanctuary cities” and is seeking to argue in court hearings next week in favor of the legislation it says will help keep America safe.
On Monday, a Texas border town and some of the state’s biggest cities will ask a U.S. federal judge to halt the state law known as Senate Bill 4, arguing it is unconstitutional, violates human rights and illegally diverts police resources from fighting local crime to enforcing U.S. immigration law.
The Republican-backed law in Texas, the U.S. state with the longest border with Mexico, takes effect on Sept. 1. It calls for jail time for police chiefs and sheriffs who fail to cooperate in U.S. immigration enforcement.
It was the first such legislation approved by a state since Republican Donald Trump, who backs a crackdown on illegal immigration, became president in January.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a “statement of interest” with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio, saying the law will facilitate cooperation between the state and federal authorities.