Texas Governor Signs Bill Into Law Banning Sanctuary Cities

Law enforcement chiefs that do not comply could be charged with a misdemeanor.

By Rachel Alexander Published on May 8, 2017

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made a surprise appearance on Facebook Live Sunday night to sign a bill banning so-called sanctuary cities. Senate Bill 4 prohibits local law enforcement agencies from telling officers not to ask someone they’ve detained if he is a citizen. It also requires those agencies to work with federal immigration officials. The law goes into effect on September 1.

No Texas cities have formally declared themselves sanctuary cities. Several have policies that Republicans assert fit the description.

Texas Will Not Be Complicit

Abbot cited the killing of Kate Steinle. She was murdered in San Francisco in 2015 by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times. “Texas will not be complicit in endangering our citizens in the way Kate Steinle was endangered,” Abbott said.

Opponents called the bill the “show-me-your-papers” measure. ACLU Texas will challenge the law “in the courts, at the ballot box and in the streets if we have to.” It is “an assault on humanity.”

The law was one of his emergency legislative priorities. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ability of local law enforcement to question immigration status in Arizona v. United States.

Abbott caught opponents off guard. They were hoping to protest at the public signing of the bill later in the week. His spokesman John Wittman said, “We’re going to where most people are getting their news nowadays and talking directly to them instead of speaking through a filter.” At the time this article went to print, the video had received over 655,000 views.

Law enforcement agencies face up to $1,500 in fines for first violations. The fines rise to $25,500 for later violations. Each day the city continues preventing officers from asking about citizen makes up a separate violation. Heads of offending law enforcement agencies may lose their jobs and be charged with a misdemeanor.

Opponents called the bill the “show-me-your-papers” measure. ACLU Texas’s head said the organization would challenge the law “in the courts, at the ballot box and in the streets if we have to.” She called it “an assault on humanity.”

Abbot Criticizes Hernandez

Abbott criticized Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez. She only holds inmates accused of a few serious crimes. Her agency will not cooperate with federal requests to hold immigrants while federal authorities investigate their status.

In response, Abbott cut $1.5 million in funding from her agency. Hernandez says she will comply with the law if it goes into effect.

This law comes a few months after President Trump signed an executive order cutting off funding to sanctuary cities. A federal judge blocked the order last month. The case will likely go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Abbott suggested that Trump use the funds withheld from sanctuary cities to build the border wall with Mexico.


Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC

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