Ever since the failed amnesty of the 1980’s, the U.S. has experienced rampant growth in the number of sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities are municipalities that provide safe harbor to illegal immigrants by refusing to cooperate with federal authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration law.
Incredibly, there are now over 200 localities in the United States operating as sanctuary cities today, including our own seat of state government, Austin. Outrage over the defiance of immigration law reached a crescendo last year, when San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle was murdered in cold-blood during a stroll down a popular pier.
Her assailant was Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant recently released from county jail.
Steinle’s murder was no isolated incident, either. According to ICE records, over 8,100 undocumented convicts sought by ICE in sanctuary cities were released instead of turned over for deportation. During the same eight-month period studied, 1,900 of these individuals gave rise to 7,500 new criminal charges, many of which were violent or sexual in nature, and in several cases directed at children.
While the U.S. Congress has introduced bills to block federal funding for jurisdictions that resist cooperation with federal authorities on immigration law, Texas has seen multiple attempts stymied in both chambers of the legislature, most recently by State Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Cook (R-Corsicana).
As the death toll from these policies continues to rise and major Texas cities such as Dallas and Houston join in the effort to stonewall immigration authorities the outcry of grassroots activists around the state demanding reform has reached near-deafening levels.
This summer, a staggering majority of delegates to the Texas Republican Party Convention joined in passing a section of the party platform supporting the complete denial and withdrawal of public funds for entities that fail to comply with immigration law.
A poll conducted by Texas Scorecard revealed the same sentiments among Texas voters, who indicated no issue was of greater importance than banning sanctuary cities.
Movement on putting the safety and well-being of Texas citizens will depend on whether Speaker Straus’ coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans are able to block reforms and escape accountability from voters. If the general election was any indicator, that accountability may be closer than ever before.