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US court upholds most of Texas law to punish ‘sanctuary cities’

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A U.S. appeals court panel on Tuesday upheld most of a Republican-backed Texas law to punish “sanctuary cities,” allowing it to remain in effect while the case is being fought in a lower court.

The law was the first of its kind since Republican Donald Trump became president in January 2017, promising to crack down on illegal immigration and communities that protect the immigrants.

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The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down one provision in the law enacted by the most-populous Republican-led state to punish local officials who endorse policies running contrary to the law.

Plaintiffs including the cities of Houston, Dallas and Austin said the provision would allow the state to remove duly elected officials if they criticized the measure, a violation of constitutional free-speech protections.

The law, known as Senate Bill 4, calls for jail for police chiefs, sheriffs and possibly frontline officers who fail to cooperate over U.S. immigration. It also allows police to ask about immigration status during a lawful detention, such as traffic stops.

Lawyers for Texas said the law helped ensure conformity across the state on the application of immigration law and prevented localities from adopting positions of non-cooperation with federal authorities.

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Plaintiffs contend the law could lead to racial profiling and divert resources from local police, who would be under the threat of job loss and fines if they do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

So-called sanctuary cities often do not use municipal funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws. Sanctuary supporters say enlisting police in deportation actions undermines community trust in local law enforcement, particularly among Latinos.

Texas Republican leaders have not identified any sanctuary cities in the state. The major cities that were plaintiffs in the suit said they had been abiding by all legal U.S. detainer requests.

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Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the decision, saying in a statement: “Enforcing immigration law prevents the release of individuals from custody who have been charged with serious crimes.”

 Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and a lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said: “We are exploring all legal options going forward.”
In August 2017, Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio found the legislation was unlikely to withstand constitutional scrutiny and blocked sections of the law just days before it was to take effect. The case then went to the 5th Circuit.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney

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The Trump murder video is no joke: It’s an encouragement to ramp up the violence

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Donald Trump is not a “friendly fascist.” Unlike Ronald Reagan, the prototype for that concept, Trump does not pretend to be harmless. He does not offer up fake smiles and a cheerful nature, or display empathy and human concern for others, feigned or otherwise.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Donald Trump is direct, obvious and public in his threats against democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law. Trump and his movement are working to destroy America’s multiracial democracy through appeals to a mythic past that will “Make America Great Again.” In practice this means undoing all the social progress and democratic reforms of the last century or more and returning to a society where white people — rich white male Christians, in particular — are fully in control over all aspects of American society for all time.

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Fox & Friends hosts deflated after legal analyst shoots down latest GOP impeachment talking point

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The hosts of "Fox & Friends" on Thursday appeared disappointed when legal analyst Andrew Napolitano gave them unfortunate news about the White House's latest objections to House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

Specifically, Napolitano addressed the letter sent to Congress by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, which claimed that the executive branch did not have to comply with any subpoenas of documents until the House formally voted to open an impeachment inquiry.

"The Republicans changed the rules when John Boehner was the Speaker of the House allowing each individual committee to issue subpoenas without a House-wide vote," he explained. "So those subpoenas are valid, and those people who resist them, ignore them, who put them in a drawer, do so at your peril."

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Nancy Pelosi goes there: Trump’s White House ‘meltdown’ is a sign he’s cracking under pressure

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We’ve reached the season where faithful viewers are forced to quit the series. If this were a Tom Clancy novel, it wouldn’t be believable. Day 1,000 of the Trump presidency has jumped the shark.This article first appeared in Salon.

“I think now we have to pray,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters upon returning to Capitol Hill from the White House late Wednesday. Along with other Democratic leaders from Congress, Pelosi had earlier walked out of a White House meeting after what she described as "a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”

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