The Texas House has approved a strict ban on “sanctuary cities”
The bill seeks to empower police to enforce federal immigration law against anyone they detain and threatening to jail police chiefs and sheriffs who refuse to do so.
After 15 plus hours of emotional debate, the bill passed 93-54.
Under it, the state could withhold funding from local governments for acting as sanctuary cities, even as the Trump administration’s efforts to do so nationally have hit roadblocks.
Other Republican-controlled states have pushed for similar polices in recent years. But Texas would be the first where police chiefs and sheriffs could be jailed for not helping enforce immigration law.
It’s backer–State Rep Charlie Geren told his colleagues he decided to sponsor the measure after hearing from his constituents.
“They’re concerned with crimes that are being committed in their communities by illegals, and they think they need to go home… they’re concerned with crimes being committed in their communities by people who are here legally–and they want them to got to jail” Geren said.
However, that argument clearly fell on deaf ears among critics–who believe the measure unfairly targets immigrants–and in some cases–is nothing but racist.
“It feels very disrespectful to all of us, because it’s not about ICE detainers… it’s not about that guys” State Rep Rafael Anchia said, seemingly taking the lead of the opposition to the bill.
State Rep Rene Oliveira agreed with that sentiment.
“In my thirty-three years in the Legislature, I’ve never seen something that would discriminate as much as this” the Brownsville Representative said.
Backers however continued to insist the bill is right for Texas.
“There are people in our communities… who we care about… who feel unsafe” State Representative Jason Villalba said, adding parts of a conversation he recently had with his grandmother, who said speaks only broken English.
“I need you to take care of all of us… be damned with the political correctness of these kinds of issues” Villalba said in recounting what she told him.