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Legislation banning sanctuary city policies clears hurdle


Gov. Greg Abbott on Feb. 8 praised the Texas Senate’s approval of legislation to ban sanctuary cities, an item on his priority list for the current legislative session.

Senate Bill 4 by Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, passed after 16 hours of floor debate on a 20-10 party-line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats in opposition.

The bill, if enacted, would prohibit a municipality, county, or special district, campus police department of an institution of higher education, an employee of certain local entities, and a district attorney or criminal district attorney from adopting rules, orders, ordinances, or policies that prohibit enforcement of state and federal immigration laws. It also would void any local policy that currently prohibits law enforcement from inquiring about a person’s immigration status and would require compliance with federal detainer requests.

SB 4 now moves to the Texas House of Representatives for consideration.

Abbott said: “As governor, I will not tolerate sanctuary city policies that put the citizens of Texas at risk. Elected officials do not get to pick and choose which laws they will obey. Today’s action in the Senate helps ensure that sheriffs and officials across Texas comply with federal immigration laws and honor Immigration and Custom Enforcement detainer requests that keep dangerous criminals off of our streets.”

Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, voted against the bill. “It signals to many in our immigrant community that they are not welcome in Texas,” Uresti said.

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers reportedly arrested more than 40 undocumented Mexican citizens in Austin alone. Similar sweeps, ordered by the White House, were conducted in other major cities in Texas and across the nation.

Ed Sterling is the director of member services for the Texas Press Association in Austin.... Contact him at 512-477-6755 or edsterling@texaspress.com.

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