On Wednesday, just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that strips sanctuary states and cities of federal funding if they "attempt to shield aliens from deportation," the Texas State Senate approved a bill that withholds state funding for sanctuary cities in which police fail to enforce immigration laws.
Texas Senate Abolishes Sanctuary Cities
"Elected officials do not get to pick and choose which laws they will obey."
Under Senate Bill 4, law enforcement in cities, counties and on college campuses would have to hold an arrested person in custody while US Customs and Immigration Enforcement looks into his or her immigration status. If the entities fail to do so, they could be denied state grant money.
On Tuesday, Texas state senators passed the bill along party lines, with 20 Republicans in favor and 11 Democrats opposed, according to CNN. The bill then went through a procedural vote the next day and is now headed to the House.
The Texas bill "is the answer to local jurisdictions picking and choosing what laws they enforce," said its author, Republican state Sen. Charles Perry of Lubbock. "The rule of law matters, and when you have individuals picking and choosing which laws they implement and how they implement those laws, it just perpetuates instability."
CNN noted that "Perry's bill would also allow crime victims to sue local officials who release immigrants that the feds suspect are in the country without proper documents -- if those people go on to commit felonies within 10 years of their release. It would not permit officers to stop a vehicle or search a home or business 'solely to enforce a federal law relating to aliens, immigrants, or immigration,' the draft states."
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, a Democrat whose jurisdiction includes the state capital of Austin, announced that her office would not hold immigrants for ICE, unless they were arrested for murder, sexual assault or human trafficking, or if federal agents issued a warrant.
"Our community is safer when people can report crimes without fear of deportation," Hernandez said in a statement. "The voters who elected state leaders and me expect and deserve a collaborative effort to come up with solutions to this very complex issue. That is precisely what I'm committed to."
Hernandez's resistance prompted Gov. Abbott last week to cut $1.5 million in state funding for Travis County.
A week ago, in his State of the State address, Abbott declared banning sanctuary cities in Texas an emergency item for lawmakers this session. "Some law enforcement officials in Texas are openly refusing to enforce existing law," the governor said. "That is unacceptable." That declaration allowed legislators to address Perry's bill immediately rather than waiting several days.
The CNN article made a point of saying that hundreds of people showed up to present "emotional testimony" before the State Affairs committee to oppose the bill. "This only instills fear within the immigrant community," said one "undocumented" college student. "I want my mom to feel safe walking within her neighborhood, I want her to feel safe driving to work and I want her to feel safe when visiting me at my university."
Well, legal American citizens want to feel safe too, from criminal aliens who are here illegally.