Fort Worth city leaders voted against joining a lawsuit against the state's so-called "Sanctuary Cities Ban," which takes effect Sept. 1.
The City Council heard from nearly 100 citizens on the matter during a meeting that stretched late into the night Tuesday. The council then voted 5-4 against joining the lawsuit.
Senate Bill 4 allows law enforcement officials to ask the immigration status of people on college campuses and people who are detained for an alleged crime or during a traffic stop. The law also threatens police chiefs and sheriffs across the state with jail if they do not cooperate with federal immigration laws.
Gov. Greg Abbott and other supporters insist the law will help remove dangerous criminals from Texas communities.
Fort Worth is the only large city in Texas not to join the lawsuit, which already includes Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston.
Opponents of SB4 say it's a "show me your papers" law.
Those in favor of Fort Worth joining in the SB4 lawsuit spoke first at Tuesday's meeting, followed by those against such action.
Among the first to speak was Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, who opted to turn toward the crowd instead of the City Council members.
"Our department is focusing upon making sure our officers don't engage in any discriminatory practices, any racial profiling," Fitzgerald said. "We realize this law is going to be very difficult for us to enforce."
Councilman Carlos Flores, a new council member, has led the charge to have Fort Worth join the other cities. Flores told NBC 5 that he intended to force a vote by the end of the meeting Tuesday.
During a briefing earlier this month, Flores and three other council members — Ann Zadeh, Gyna Bivens, and Kelly Allen Gray — expressed their support for joining the lawsuit.
Mayor Betsy Price and the remaining four council members said they were hesitant to get involved. They questioned the need to join the lawsuit, which will move forward regardless of their participation. Some also expressed concerns about what it might cost the city.
Community activist Daniel Garcia Rodriguez led a solidarity walk to City Hall earlier in the evening.
During the meeting, Rodriguez stood at the podium with his migrant parents and gave the council an ultimatum: join their effort or face the political consequences.
"This is a minority-majority city, and we're going to get that minority out to the polls, and we're going to do whatever it takes. And my community is going to fight this, and fight you guys and get you of office," he said to the council.