‘Sanctuary Cities’ Now Banned in Texas
Late Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a ban on “sanctuary cities” that now allows police to ask about a person’s immigration status and threatens sheriffs with jail if they do not cooperate with federal authorities.
He signed the bill over strong opposition from immigrant-rights groups and Democrats, who say the law echoes Arizona’s immigration crackdown in Y 2010 that prompted national controversy and lawsuits.
gov. Abbott, a Republican in his first term, took the unusual step of signing the bill on Facebook (NYSE:FB) with no public notice in advance. He said Texas residents expect lawmakers to “keep us safe” and said similar laws have already been tested in federal court, where opponents have said the bill likely will be immediately challenged.
“Let’s face it, the reason why so many people come to America is because we are a nation of laws and Texas is doing its part to keep it that way,” Gov. Abbott said. His spokesman said they chose to sign the bill on a Facebook livestream because that’s “where most people are getting their news nowadays.”
The bill cleared a final hurdle this week in the Republican-controlled Legislature over objections from Democrats and immigrant rights supporters who’ve packed the Texas Capitol. They call it a “show-me-your-papers” measure that will be used to discriminate against Latinos.
Every major Police Chief in Texas opposed the bill. Republicans say it is needed to ensure local jails honor requests from federal officials to keep dangerous offenders behind bars.
The term “sanctuary cities” has no legal definition, but Republicans want local police to help federal immigration agents crack down on criminal suspects in the US illegally.
Republicans have a strong majority in the Legislature and shoved aside Democratic objections to push the bill, even as President Donald Trump’s efforts to withhold federal funding for “sanctuary cities” have hit roadblocks in federal courts.
The Texas bill allows police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain, a situation that can range from arrest for a crime to being stopped for a traffic violation. It also requires local officials to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation.
Texas currently does not have any cities which have formally declared themselves “sanctuaries” for unlawful immigrants.
But Sally Hernandez, the Sheriff of Travis County, which includes liberal Austin, enraged conservatives by refusing to honor federal detainer requests if the suspects were not arrested for immigration offenses or serious crimes such as murder. Sheriff Hernandez softened her policy after gov. Abbott cut funding to the county, saying decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis. She has said she will conform to the state’s ban if it becomes law.
Have a terrific week.
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