After recent exposure for killing immigration enforcement initiatives over the past several sessions, and doing nothing on the issue since it heated up this summer, the Texas House is belatedly responding to citizens’ frustrations with “sanctuary cities” by holding a hearing. Despite the politically-inspired claims of the committee’s leadership, the hearing is actually focused on “undocumented immigrants.”

But even in their show-efforts, the coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans who run the state’s lower chamber are using the language of the left to define their actions, showing once again that, regardless of campaign rhetoric, they will always work to oppose enforcement of immigration laws.

The Texas House State Affairs Committee, helmed by the man amnesty supporters call their “best friend” in the legislature, is finally claiming to be holding a hearing on sanctuary cities… but not until Thursday, Dec. 10. And even then, it’s not exactly on sanctuary cities.

Chairman Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) has faced criticism lately for his repeated actions killing “sanctuary city” legislation and is feeling vulnerable in his reelection campaign because of that record.

He should feel vulnerable in light of the fact that 96% of likely Republican primary voters consider legislation banning “sanctuary cities” to be “very important” to them.

Here’s the House committee’s hearing notice, which is identical to the weak language House Speaker Joe Straus used in his “interim charge”:

Examine state and local laws applicable to undocumented immigrants throughout the State of Texas and analyze the effects of those laws in conjunction with federal immigration laws and the policies and practices followed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Undocumented immigrants” is the language the politically correct crowd on the left uses to describe illegal immigrants – people who have knowingly violated the laws of Texas and the United States

What words are missing? “Sanctuary” and “city.”

Compare that to the language Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is using in crafting the Senate’s policy directed to specifically address sanctuary cities:

Study the various sanctuary city policies statewide, the number and types of crimes committed by previously arrested illegal immigrants within the jurisdiction of a “sanctuary policy,” and possible solutions to discourage governmental entities from putting in place policies that conflict with immigration laws. Make recommendations to improve community safety.

In a recent news release, Patrick said that he believes “the Senate has the votes to pass a prohibition on sanctuary cities and we will pass this legislation out of the Texas Senate as soon as possible.”

Cook and the rest of House leadership are undoubtedly trying to hop on Patrick’s coattails so they can claim action on the issue in their primaries.

Yet according to Byron Cook, there isn’t a need for legislation barring sanctuary cities. “Historically, we haven’t found any cities that are sanctuary cities.”

That’s odd, since Greg Abbott and Rick Perry both have.

Abbott recently said sanctuary cities “will no longer be tolerated in Texas.” The governor has said ending sanctuary cities will be a top priority in the next legislative session. He also said he would withhold state funding to those counties that don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials.

In 2011, then-Gov. Perry called a special session to put an end to sanctuary cities, but the measure was killed by Cook and his boss, House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio). Cook has even spent the last two legislative sessions seeking support for a measure that would provide driver permits for illegal aliens.

No doubt Cook, Straus and their enablers in the House will try to sell Thursday’s hearing on “undocumented immigrants” as proof the House is finally doing something on “sanctuary cities.” In fact, they aren’t actually doing anything.

Worse, they have committed themselves to passing legislation that actually moves Texas in the opposite direction from reform.


Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."