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TEXAS (KRLD 1080) – The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated a 2015 Texas law that added criminal penalties for harboring immigrants in the United States illegally.

Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund claims it’s a victory for both Texas and minority groups.

“We had to go all the way up to the 5th circuit to get a declaration in favor of humanitarian workers and ordinary landlords that they weren’t going to get arrested and prosecuted for having contact with undocumented immigrants.”

Constitutional Law Professor Gerald Treece of the South Texas College of Law says the appeals court rejected the decision of the lower court.

“They basically said, those who sued could not demonstrate a credible threat of prosecution.”

Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the ruling in a written statement, saying it 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.”

Texas public safety officials said the state “would not investigate, file criminal charges, or otherwise engage in enforcement activity” against plaintiffs for “harboring” immigrants who were in the country illegally. They argued that the provision was clear in targeting only human smugglers.

To view a copy of the ruling, click here: