Though debate on the issue raged for hours, Republicans in the Texas Senate passed legislation to effectively ban sanctuary cities Wednesday morning by a party-line vote of 20 to 11.
Sanctuary cities are municipal entities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities in enforcing immigration law. Forcing those cities to do so was labeled a legislative priority by the State Republican Executive Committee.
Lawmakers don’t have to look far to find an example of these dangerous policies in practice. The clearest example is the state’s capital of Austin.
Earlier this year, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced that she would refuse to cooperate with federal authorities concerning Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainment requests, effectively turning the county into a sanctuary for illegal alien criminals.
That announcement prompted serious response from Gov. Greg Abbott who swiftly moved to cut funding from the county and labeled outlawing sanctuary cities an emergency item in his State of the State address.
The Senate quickly acted with State Sen. Charles Perry (R–Lubbock) leading the charge by authoring SB 4, which would end sanctuary cities in the state of Texas by amending state law in order to compel law enforcement officials to honor detainment requests.
Although Democrats in the legislature asserted that such a move would be unconstitutional, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a letter confirming the constitutionality of the legislation.
“Our review of the law concludes CSSB 4 is constitutional, there are viable methods for covered entities to avoid liability regarding invalid detainers, and the remainder of the legal concerns are unfounded,” said the state’s attorney general.
In the letter, Paxton also voiced his support for the legislation, arguing that it “would make great strides to keep communities secure by requiring state and local law enforcement to cooperate with federal agencies as they take care to faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States.”
Upon passage of the legislation, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick praised the passage of the legislation.
“No city in Texas should be allowed to ignore the law. I congratulate Sen. Perry on today’s vote in the Senate to pass SB 4 and thank him for his commitment to keeping our communities safe,” said Patrick. “Ending sanctuary cities was one of my top priorities and I am pleased that we are acting swiftly on the agenda of the people of Texas.”
Unlike last session where liberal Republicans joined the Democrat blockade against the legislation, the measure quickly passed the chamber this time around. It will now proceed to the Texas House where reform efforts have been butchered by the House hatchet-man, State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana).
In order for sanctuary cities to be banned and reform efforts to succeed, citizens will have to put forward major efforts in order to hold their lawmakers accountable.