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Fifth Circuit hears immigrant harboring lawsuit appeal

This time it’s the state that’s appealing a lower court ruling.

A federal appeals court in New Orleans heard oral arguments Wednesday about whether a key portion of Texas’ omnibus border security bill is legal.

Lawyers for the state of Texas argued that two landlords, and an immigrant services agency, who sued the state over House Bill 11 had no legal standing to do so. But the plaintiffs say they have every right to sue, and that federal law pre-empts what the state wants to do with the passage of House Bill 11.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans did not say when its three-judge panel might rule. The judges on the panel were E. Grady Jolly, Jerry E. Smith, and Edward C. Prado — all Republican appointees, court records show.

Under a provision of HB 11, which went into effect in September 2015, a person commits a crime if they “encourage or induce a person to enter or remain in this country in violation of federal law by concealing, harboring, or shielding that person from detection.”

In January 2016, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit in San Antonio against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and the Texas Public Safety Commission, which oversees the DPS. The lawsuit alleges the state violated the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause because immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility.


“I thought the argument went well today,” Nina Perales√, MALDEF’s vice president of litigation, said by email after presenting oral argument for the landlords. She said the judges listened carefully to both sides and asked thoughtful questions.

“Because the statute’s wording is very broad, and doesn’t contain exceptions for landlords and humanitarian workers, we argued to the court that landlords and humanitarian workers can be arrested under this law,” Perales said

See here and here for the background, and this Trib story for a pre-hearing overview. This is familiar ground we’re fighting over, and I expect this one will eventually make its way to SCOTUS. Unlike some other issues that have been fought and re-fought, this is one where the state may not care to push this beyond the current fight, in the belief that Donald Trump will build a glorious wall and make Mexico pay for it spend more federal money on border security. That assumes that they lose this fight, and that Trump is true to his word, both of which remain to be seen. In the meantime, we wait for the Fifth to do what it’s going to do.

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  1. Bill Daniels says:

    With regards to the wall, if we want to get started on it right away, we would have to front the money, then “subrogate” later to recoup the money we have spent. Keep doing Carrier, Ford, and Stanley Black & Decker deals and Mexico will do the math and pay up. Their Peso is already in the dumpster and Trump hasn’t even been sworn in.

    Trump is their signal that America is mad as Hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.

    It also will take time for a tax on remittances by Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the US to Mexico to pass and start generating revenue. There are many ways to fulfill that campaign promise. I’m not worried.

    This is no different than you getting into an accident with an uninsured motorist. You get your own insurance company to fix the car, then your insurer subrogates against the driver responsible for your damages.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Edit: I assumed Mexico was already starting to amass the wall building money from that 20% hike in gasoline prices they just imposed on their citizenry.

  3. voter_worker says:

    Great plan to push Mexico into the loving arms of Russia, Bill. Those Russian ships and planes patrolling the Gulf and Caribbean are going to need ports and airfields.

  4. Bill Daniels says:


    Maybe the Russians can do what we seem to be unable to do…..take down the drug cartels. And since the Russians are the boogie man of the hour, why haven’t they broken their agreement with JFK and put those airfields and ports in Cuba already? Why haven’t they put them in Venezuela? Both are very convenient to the Gulf of Mexico.

    Russia can’t even keep its client-state Syria under control. What makes you think they have the wherewithal to prop up another failed nation state like Mexico?

    Russia is an adversary, yes, but just like in WWII, they should be an ally of convenience, since we both have a bigger problem right now, the Muslim hordes terrorizing the world.

  5. voter_worker says:

    Bill, the way to take down the drug cartels is to legalize their product, out-compete them and put them out of business. Capitalism 101. I’m not using the Russians as a bogey-man. Trump’s attitude about instituting an era of cooperation to replace the era of confrontation is something that has great potential if handled properly. If it takes a Trump to drag America into a more rational policy regime with them, so be it. I just don’t look forward to American pearl-clutching when they start trying to build a presence in the Western Hemisphere. If Trump can overcome the anti-Russian hawks, I’ll be among those applauding. Back on topic, laws criminalizing entire classes of people are wrong and lead to loads of unpleasant, unintended consequences. The law being discussed in this post is such a law and should be thrown out.

  6. Flypusher says:

    “Keep doing Carrier, Ford, and Stanley Black & Decker deals and Mexico will do the math and pay up. ”

    Any math that doesn’t factor in automation will ultimately fail. Carrier is investing in automation, which means less manufacturing jobs in both Mexico and the US in the longer term. What to lay bets on how many of those 800 jobs (800, not 1100) will still be in Indiana in a few years?

    Coal isn’t coming back either.

  7. Bill Daniels says:


    Agree on drug legalization, agree on the basics of cooperation with Russia, and I also agree that Dan’s bathroom bill ought to be tossed out. 3 for 3! How often does that happen?


    Automation certainly will be a factor in manufacturing, but there is still no way to get around property taxes, corporate income taxes, taxes on the remaining workers’ salaries, etc. Ford was going to invest about $ 1 1/2B in Mexico. How much do you think that would pay the various Mexican taxing authorities, even if there were no employees?

    Trump just messed with Mexico’s money, and has indicated his intent to keep on going after their money, while Vicente says, “No ****ing way!” This is two neighborhood kids getting into a wrestling match until one of them says “uncle.” In this case, “uncle” means Nieto getting out his checkbook and paying up, and Vicente eating crow.

    With Trump, Tillerson, et al doing the negotiating, the US is now negotiating from a position of strength. The apology tour is over.

    I do agree that manufacturing will continue to be less labor intensive, but those losses can be made up with more manufacturing returning to the US……volume.

    As to coal, a few thoughts. Coal competes with oil, natural gas, nuclear, and to a much lesser extent, wind, hydro and solar. If (when) coal turns out to be more expensive than the alternatives, then coal dies a natural death. However, if coal can successfully compete, we shouldn’t be killing it with a regulatory firing squad. Remember “under my plan, energy prices will necessarily skyrocket?” Remember $ 15 natural gas $ 5/gal diesel? $ .18/ kW electricity? I do, and I’m not anxious to go back there,but I am anxious to see the US become not only energy independent, but a net exporter of energy. What do you think it would be worth to Mexico to allow them to keep selling us oil, knowing that we could turn off the spigot any time?

    Trump is on record basically rehashing the McCain Palin energy policy. Take the gloves off and let all energy compete. When was the last time a nuke plant was built? When was the last time a NEW refinery was built? Trump wants to take the chains off the energy industry, including coal. If and when coal dies, at least it will be a natural death, vs. being assassinated by our government.

  8. voter_worker says:

    Bill, this post is about HB 11-border security- not Patrick’s br thing. We agree on that but not the border security/arresting people who help undocumented immigrants law being discussed here. I’ve been reading today that a plan is developing in Congress to fund an 850 mile long fence authorized during the GW Bush administration. I have no doubt that with only two or three tweets Trump will re-assure his followers that a) fences and walls are the same thing and b)Mexico will pay sooner or later but don’t worry about that now because we have other fish to fry.

  9. C.L. says:

    Congress can’t get the simplest of bills passed. No way in hell a proposed bill of any type that has the US paying for a wall, with Mexico sending us a rebate check after we send them the recieipt and UPC code on a cardboard box end, will ever make it out of Washington.