Texas stokes immigration debate with 'sanctuary cities' ban

Texas stokes immigration debate with 'sanctuary cities' ban

Broadcasting on Facebook Live from the Capitol, Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday evening signed the bill to ban so-called sanctuary cities, the common term for local jurisdictions that decline in some way to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. There have been numerous protests surrounding the Texas bill in the last few months and recently last week around 20 people were charged with criminal trespassing because they were conducting a day-long sit-in at a state building where some of Abbott's staff were said to work.

"Citizens expect law enforcement officers to enforce the law, and citizens deserve law breakers to face legal consequences", Abbot said before signing the law.

Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, MALDEF, called the law a "colossal blunder" and pointed out the law will further strain the relationship between the immigrant communities and the local law enforcement authorities. A spokesman for the governor said he chose to sign it on social media because that's "where most people are getting their news nowadays", but critics say he was trying to avoid protesters.

As the Associate Press reports, this legislation enables police officers across Texas to demand the immigration status of anyone they detain, whether for a small traffic infraction or a significant crime.

The governor signed the controversial bill at 6:30 p.m. using Facebook live on the official page of the Texas governor.

"This legislation is bad for Texas and will make our communities more unsafe for all", the police chiefs of cities, including Houston and Dallas, wrote in an opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News in late April.

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"Kate's death was more than a murder - it was gross negligence by government policy", Abbott said.

It also requires police chiefs and sheriffs — under the threat of jail and removal of office — to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation. It is due to go into effect September 1.

According to the governor's office, this measure was one of Abbott's emergency legislative priorities.

While those states have laws that urge local authorities to assist federal immigration officials, the L.A. Times notes that the Texas law is the first that says local officials will face criminal penalties if they refuse to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests.

Those standing against the law have said its similar to Arizona's "papers, please" law, parts of which were struck down by the US Supreme Court on June 25, 2012. She has said she will conform to the state's ban if it becomes law.

"This is not the Texas I know", said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, describing the measure as "racist and wrongheaded".

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