5th U.S. Circuit Court ruling reinstates Texas’ harboring law

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AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised a Thursday ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upholds a 2015 state law criminalizing the harboring of illegal aliens. A group of open border advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of House Bill 11, which added criminal penalties against those who traffic humans and smuggle immigrants into the U.S. illegally for money. Last April, a district judge blocked Texas from enforcing the law.

The plaintiffs in Cruz v. Abbott argued that the anti-harboring provision of HB 11 improperly targets illegal alien shelters and individuals who rent to them, but the 5th Circuit dismissed the case and adopted the position the State argued in district court: “Because there is no reasonable interpretation by which merely renting housing or providing social services to an illegal alien constitutes ‘harboring…that person from detection,’ we reverse the injunction.”

HB 11 was passed in 2015 and its harboring provisions are part of an $800 million border security effort.

Attorney General Paxton said this in response to the decision: “Today’s ruling by the 5th Circuit will allow the state to fight the smuggling of humans and illegal contraband by transnational gangs and perpetrators of organized crime, not just on the border, but throughout Texas.”

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