Texas Governor Signs Bill Targeting Sanctuary Cities

Tuesday, 09 May, 2017

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, speaking to reporters following a meeting with President Obama at the White House on December 5, 2014, signed a bill banning sanctuary cities in the state, citing public safety.

The law bans cities throughout the state for enacting policies that prohibits police and sheriffs from cooperating with federal immigration officials.

"Most of the Hispanics in the state of Texas are here legally and they have absolutely nothing to worry about", Abbott said, adding that "it is illegal for a law enforcement officer to racially profile anybody".

The Texas bill signing comes over intense opposition from immigrant-rights groups and Democrats, who say the law echoes Arizona's immigration crackdown in 2010 that prompted national controversy and lawsuits.

"Elected officials and law enforcement agencies, they don't get to pick and choose which laws they will obey", Abbott said in his video.

The bill was passed by the state Senate three days ago.

Texas, which has an estimated 1.5 million undocumented immigrants and the longest border with Mexico of any USA state, has been at the forefront of the immigration debate. "I think it was necessary to declare to the world what the law is and that we are going to enforce it".

However, last month a court blocked his executive order to deny cities harboring undocumented immigrants billions of dollars in federal funding.

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Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law Sunday evening on Facebook Live with no advanced warning. Whereas the Arizona law required police to try to determine the immigration status of people during routine stops, the Texas bill does not instruct officers to ask. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that Texas is home to more than 1.4 million people who are in the country illegally, including 71,000 living in the San Antonio area.

The new law may be a deterrent for Mexicans lawfully visiting or working in Texas, said Jose Fernandez Santillan, a political science professor at Monterrey Tec in Mexico City.

Greg Abbott, the governor, signed the bill on Sunday despite a plea from police chiefs of the state's biggest cities to halt the measure, which they say will hinder their ability to fight crime.

Every major police chief in Texas opposed the bill, KVUE-TV reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticised the bill in a statement.

The law requires them to honor federal authorities' requests to hold someone in jail while his or her immigration status is checked out for possible deportation.

Texas doesn't now have any sanctuary cities. "We target individuals committing violent crimes and arrest anyone who threatens the safety, regardless of their immigration status". This is Abbott's second gambit against the sheriff: he has already cut off some of her county's budget in response to her attitude towards immigrants.