The Speaker of the Texas House is joining with Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick in calling for an end to Sanctuary Cities in the Lone Star State.
“Speaker Straus will work with fellow House Members, Governor Abbott and law enforcement to ensure that there are no sanctuary cities in Texas,” said Jason Embry, communications director for Speaker Straus, in an email to Breitbart Texas. The comment came in response to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas about a statement made earlier in the week by Speaker Straus, and reported by the Texas Tribune, that only a “constructive” bill would find open arms in the Texas House. The speaker did not appear to define “constructive.” He added that “sanctuary” policies “may not be as widespread of a problem” as some people think. While the issue of Sanctuary City legislation has bounced back and forth between the Texas House and Senate over the past several sessions, no bill has made it to the governor’s desk for signature. Bills have died in both the House and the Senate in past sessions, but it now appears there will be support in both legislative bodies for passage. Governor Abbott has said he will sign a bill that reaches his desk.
Governor Abbott is increasing pressure on jurisdictions who are adopting sanctuary policies in the weeks leading up to the 2017 Texas Legislative Session. On Sunday, Abbott tweeted, “Yes. I am going to sign a law that bans sanctuary cities. Also I’ve already issued an order cutting funding from sanctuary cities.”
Abbott is referring to an order he signed in October when he said sanctuary cities in Texas will “no longer be tolerated.” That message came in response to a threat by Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to consider honoring federal immigration detainers only on a “case-by-case” basis.
The governor laid out actions he and the State of Texas could take in response to the actions of the sheriff and other sanctuary jurisdictions. Those include the following:
- Passing laws that prohibit any policy or action that promotes sanctuary to people in the state illegally.
- Enacting laws that make it illegal for a sheriff’s department to not honor a federal immigration detainer request.
- Evaluating the extent to which local taxpayers should foot the bill for local decisions that increase costs for Texas’ health and education systems.
- Amending the Tort Claims Act to ensure counties are financially responsible for the actions of any illegal immigrants who are released because the county’s sheriff failed to honor an ICE detainer request.
In November, State Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) pre-filed legislation to “eliminate Sanctuary Cities in the State of Texas,” Breitbart Texas reported. The filing of SB 4 by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) on Tuesday follows the announcement by Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick that ending sanctuary cities in Texas would be a priority for the 85th Legislative Session which begins in January 2017.
At the federal level, U.S. Representative John Culberson (R-TX) has laid the groundwork to force the DOJ to block funding to at least 10 sanctuary jurisdictions. Culberson, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, used the congressional power of the purse to force the Department of Justice (DOJ) to enforce existing laws requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with immigration officials.
Those jurisdictions include the entire states of California and Connecticut; Orleans Parish in Louisiana; New York City; Philadelphia; Cook County, Illinois; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Clark County, Nevada. These jurisdictions have received more than $342 million in federal payments. “The critical steps have already been taken,” Chairman Culberson stated. “President Trump and Attorney General Sessions will, on day one, be able to strip the funding from these sanctuary jurisdictions simply by enforcing existing law.”
The Texas legislature can take action during this session to stop or prevent sanctuary jurisdictions from operating in Texas.
Senator Perry’s bill, SB 4, will “eliminate Sanctuary Cities in the State of Texas,” he stated at the time. The five key provisions of Perry’s SB 4 were discussed by the senator’s staff with Breitbart Texas. Those provisions are:
- Municipalities are forced to comply with immigration detainers;
- Municipalities cannot prohibit or discourage officers from inquiring about immigration status during a lawful stop;
- State grants will be withheld if the Attorney of Texas finds an entity is in violation of law;
- The immigration status must be recorded in a person’s case file; and
- The bill protects witnesses and victims of crimes if they are here illegally.
“No city in Texas should be allowed to ignore the law,” Lt. Governor Patrick stated. “We will end this practice once and for all this session.” Governor Abbott also responded this week to an uprising of Texas college students calling for their campuses to be designated as Sanctuary Campuses.
With the support of the three top leaders in the state, passage of a Sanctuary City bill could well be on its way to Governor Abbott’s desk in the coming months.