Texas governor signs law banning ‘sanctuary cities’

by WorldTribune Staff, May 8, 2017

There will be no “sanctuary cities” in the state of Texas after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law banning municipalities from shielding illegal aliens from immigration enforcement.

Abbott, who designated the ban as an emergency item in January, signed the bill just four days after both chambers of the state legislature approved it, the Dallas News reported on May 7. The law goes into effect on Sept. 1.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. /AP

“Texans expect us to keep them safe, and that is exactly what we are going to do by me signing this law,” said Abbott, who signed the legislation during a Facebook Live video – the first time a Texas governor has signed a bill through an Internet live stream.

Under the new law, cities, counties and universities are banned from prohibiting local law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status and enforcing immigration law. Criminal charges are possible for police chiefs, county sheriffs and constables who violate the ban. Local jurisdictions can be charged up to $25,000 for each day they are in violation of the ban.

Elected or appointed officials who violate the ban could be removed from office.

The law will also allow police officers to ask about a person’s immigration status during any legal detention, which could include a routine traffic stop, the Dallas News report said.

The law “simply makes sense,” Abbott said. “Citizens expect law enforcement officers to enforce the law, and citizens deserve lawbreakers to face legal consequences.”

Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas said: “This racist and wrongheaded piece of legislation ignores our values, imperils our communities and sullies our reputation as a free and welcoming state. We will fight this assault in the courts, at the ballot box, and in the streets if we have to.”

During the signing ceremony, Abbott criticized the policies of Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who earlier this year changed policies to limit the unauthorized immigrants her office would turn over to federal immigration authorities under requests called “detainers.”

“Those policies are sanctuary city policies and won’t be tolerated in Texas,” Abbott said. “Elected officials and law enforcement agencies, they don’t get to pick and choose which laws they will obey.”

Abbott said ignoring requests for cooperation from federal immigration authorities has had “deadly consequences,” pointing to the death of Katie Steinle in San Francisco as an example. Steinle was murdered in 2015 by an illegal alien who had an extensive criminal record and had been deported five times.