What to know as Texas nears passing 'sanctuary city' law

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 19, 2017

The Texas House approved a resolution Thursday calling for a first-ever national convention of the states aimed at limiting the federal government's powers. After the emotional Wednesday-night vote on the bill, Abbott tweeted that he was "getting my signing pen warmed up".

Senate Bill 4 mandates that states comply with all detainer requests from the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Perry said he did have some "angst" about unintended consequences of the bill, but finds it "devastating" to see the rule of law undermined by rogue jurisdictions.

Abbott has urged lawmakers to pass a bill this session that bans "sanctuary cities" - places where local officials do not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the settlement will not and can not affect El Paso's compliance with the law.

Lubbock Republican Charles Perry, who wrote the bill, said despite the criticism, the bill does not allow law enforcement to demand documentation of a person's immigration status. But during a floor debate Wednesday before the measure was approved by the Senate, the bill's author, state Sen.

State Representative Dave Williams of Colorado introduced a similar bill that would allow citizens to sue politicians in his state's sanctuary cities if they've been the victims of crimes committed by an undocumented immigrant.

Meanwhile, Democrats and progressive groups decried the bill as a "show-me-your-papers" measure and promised to file an immediate court challenge to SB4 after Abbott signs the measure, which they predict will be found unconstitutional.

Protesters march in the streets outside the Texas State Capitol.

"This will lead to distrust of police, less cooperation from members of the community and will foster the belief that they can not seek assistance from police for fear of being subjected to an immigration-status investigation", the chiefs wrote.

"The enforcement side, you're going to have people that are actually taken into custody for the goal of determining their national origin", Flores said.

Around 20 people were charged with criminal trespassing Monday evening after staging an hours-long sit-in at a state building to protest a Texas bill compelling local police to enforce federal immigration law.

"Banning sanctuary cities is about stopping officials who have sworn to enforce the laws from helping people who commit awful crimes evade immigration detainers", Perry said in a statement. And that "We're not exaggerating...when we say the people who will feel the biggest effects of this are the most vulnerable, the women, the children, the survivors of sexual assault, rape, human traffickers, the people who will feel the disconnect from law enforcement, the people who are supposed to make them safe".

Sally Hernandez, the sheriff of Travis County, which includes liberal Austin, enraged conservatives by refusing to honor federal detainer requests if the suspects weren't arrested for immigration offenses or serious crimes such as murder.

But several law enforcement leaders have said the bill will erode the public's trust. "Therefore, I don't believe the sanctuary city ban creates any new laws - but merely reasserts the current federal laws as they pertain to immigration".

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