The Texas State House of Representatives [official website] approved on Thursday a strict ban [SB 4, text] on so-called “sanctuary cities.” The bill seeks to empower law enforcement [ABC report] to enforce federal immigration law against detainees and threatens to jail any police chiefs or sheriffs who refuse to follow federal law. The bill would allow the Texas government to withhold funding from local governments acting as sanctuary cities in order to help “keep the public safe and remove bad people from the street.” Their was opposition to the bill [Dallas Observer report] after an amendment allowed local law enforcement to inquire about federal immigration status during detainment as well as after an arrest. There is fear that this amendment could lead to a strained relationship between the community and the police. The amendment put the bill closer to the state’s senate version that has been passed, however the two chambers will still need to compromise on the bill before sending it to the governor.
Since the election of US President Donald Trump, some states and cities have proposed legislation to crackdown on sanctuary policies while some cities continue to stand behind their policies [JURIST op-ed]. Last month the Mississippi Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] to prohibit local sanctuary immigration policies. In February, the Alabama House approved [JURIST report] a bill to block funding for sanctuary universities. In the same month, Texas Senate approved a bill targeting sanctuary cities [JURIST report] by requiring them to comply with federal immigration law. Earlier in February San Francisco filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over an executive order that would cut federal funding [JURIST report] from sanctuary cities. In January, San Francisco’s police chef was sued by an undocumented El Salvadorian over the city’s sanctuary protection laws [JURIST report]. Also in January, the New York Attorney General proposed model language [JURIST report] for immigration laws and policies in sanctuary cities.