Texas poised to ban 'sanctuary cities' amid nationwide debate

Posted May 09, 2017

The Texas Senate approved a bill Wednesday that outlaws sanctuary cities in the state, threatening jail time for government officials who fail to comply with federal immigration law.

Gathered in front of the Bexar County Courthouse on Friday, a group of state and local government leaders and heads of law enforcement agencies rallied in hopes that Gov. Greg Abbott would veto a controversial bill against so-called "sanctuary cities".

Police and sheriff's departments in Texas are decrying an immigration bill passed by the state legislature, saying it will drive a wedge between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

"Banning sanctuary cities is about stopping officials who have sworn to enforce the law from helping people who commit awful crimes evade immigration detainers", he said in a statement.

Bit the state of Texas appears to be cracking down on sanctuary cities in a major way.

"Nowhere in the bill as it came back from the House does it instruct officers to demand papers", Perry said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

In March, Mississippi's governor signed a law that bars sanctuary jurisdictions, while Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed a similar measure.

Abbott has long promised to sign a sanctuary cities ban but his office did not immediately comment on the bill's passage Wednesday. They worry that such a convention could result in unsafe changes that jeopardize the constitutional rights Americans have long cherished. Currently, these are legally optional and allow law enforcement officers to evaluate detainer requests on a case by case basis.

Also, the bill blocks local jurisdictions from passing or enforcing counter-legislation that would bar police officers from asking about a detained person's legal status.

Since then, half of the Republicans in the House have signed on as co-authors.

"We can not have multiple jurisdictions around this country or this state that pick and choose which laws they are looking at", Perry said, according to the Dallas Morning News.

State Sen. Charles Perry, who co-sponsored the measure, claims this bill will make Texas communities safer. Many sheriffs and police chiefs in heavily Democratic areas warn that it would make their jobs harder if immigrant communities - including crime victims and witnesses - become afraid of the police. "The Legislature could easily start by addressing the businesses that hire undocumented workers, which is why the majority of the honest, hard-working persons immigrate to this country with or without documentation".

State Rep. Richard Raymond, a Laredo Democrat, wore a Romo jersey and state Rep. Jeff Leach, a Plano Republican, donned a Cowboys helmet.

"It's not only important that [students] understand some of the rudimentary facts about how things work but it's also important that they're able to talk about it and discuss it and write an essay question on it", he says.

The bill's House sponsor, Rep. Rick Miller, told lawmakers that he did not wish to rewrite the U.S. Constitution.

Courts blocked other portions of Arizona's law, including one that made it a crime not to carry immigrations documents, which were never proposed under the Texas bill.