Texas House OKs 'sanctuary city' ban with tough jail penalty


28 April, 2017

Under the legislation, cities, counties and universities could no longer adopt so-called sanctuary policies.

Around 3 a.m. Thursday, the Texas House voted to approve a ban on "sanctuary cities", after 16 hours of emotional debate.

"Banning Sanctuary Cities *is* about keeping our communities' safe by ensuring those who engage in criminal activity are not automatically released back into our communities".

It targets police agencies that discourage their officers from inquiring about subjects' immigration status in certain circumstances and county jails that decline to honor federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to extend the detention of inmates suspected of being unauthorized immigrants. They took out a provision that would cut funding to local programs if an official violates the law. She will not eat again until Wednesday, after the legislature votes on Senate Bill 4. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, the bill's House sponsor, stood his ground and said the bill wasn't about targeting minorities or about racial profiling. Blanco's amendment would allow police officers to choose to not inquire about someone's immigration status if it goes against their Catholic beliefs, he said. It also threatens to jail police chiefs and sheriffs who help support "sanctuary cities" by refusing to follow the Trump administration in its initiative to crackdown on illegal immigration. That approach (designed to foster community policing and trust of law enforcement among marginalized groups) earned the ire of Gov. Greg Abbott, who rescinded a wide array of county grants in retaliation.

It also comes after a federal judge on Tuesday ruled that President Donald Trump exceeded his authority when he signed an executive order withholding federal money from "sanctuary" cities in the country.

"We're going to give them Hell today".

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Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, who is on a four-day fast to protest the bill, read profane social media messages she has received since beginning her fast.

Rep. Mary Gonzalez told the House that she believes the bill will expose undocumented Texas residents to more crime.

Still, Republicans maintained the legislation was simply about the rule of law.

In Texas, Abbott is withholding almost $2 million in grant money to Travis County, where Sheriff Sally Hernandez said she would only comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detaining someone for serious crimes, such as murder or aggravated sexual assault.

The next stop for SB 4 is a conference committee where appointed lawmakers will gather to hash out the differences between the Senate and House version before giving it a final nod. Many of his colleagues decried what they called a "show me your papers law". Similar efforts have collapsed in the past, though, meaning the issue isn't yet fully settled.

Sheriffs warn the bill could make their jobs harder if immigrant communities-including crime victims and witnesses-fear the police.

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