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Border Town Whose Official Language is Spanish First to Sue Texas’ Sanctuary City Ban


The tiny town of El Cenizo (Ashen City) is facing a major dilemma whose outcome can determine its future.

The town of 3,800 people lies on the Rio Grande River, 25 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border. The majority of its residents are of Mexican descent and over 20 percent of its residents are undocumented. It’s so Hispanic (99% to be exact) that in 1999 El Cenizo officially adopted Spanish as its official language.

The problem with El Cenizo is that Texas just passed SB40 mandating local municipalities comply with “any request made by immigration officials and mandates local officials hold any immigrant after they are released from jail so Immigration and Customs can detain them.” The law ,effective September 1, also allows for police to ask anyone their immigration status even if they are stopped for jaywalking. In 1999 El Cenizo also outlawed its police from asking anyone their immigration status.

Violate the law and it’s a $25,000/day fine from the state. And with a $250,000 annual budget tiny El Cenizo will go broke in about a week.

What to do except take something out of President Donald J. Trump’s business playbook – sue until you get what you want. So El Cenzio, in a battle of David versus Goliath, has sued its home state of Texas to lift SB40. It has become the first but not last city to sue Texas over its SB40 “anti-sanctuary city” ban.

Mayor Raul Reyes, descent of undocumented immigrants, likes to point out “Unauthorized immigrants have contributed more to their small community than the state government ever has.” Building public parks and the local library as well as paving many of the city’s roads has been done by undocumented volunteers, he noted. Often border towns are forgotten in the Texas state budget.

As this lawsuit against Texas SB40 makes its way through the courts, El Cenzio’s five volunteer police officers will remain conflicted.

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HSN Staff Writers

HSN staff writers are a group of enthusiastic and talented creative-types that generate great story lines and write about current events with a distinctively Latino voice always respecting the audience it writes for.

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