Texas House OKs 'sanctuary city' ban with tough jail penalty

Through the TCCB, the bishops provide a moral and social public policy voice that includes monitoring all legislation pertaining to Catholic moral and social teaching; accredit the state's Catholic schools; and maintain records that reflect the work and the history of the Catholic Church in Texas.

The term "sanctuary cities" has no legal definition, but Republicans want local police to help federal authorities as part of a larger effort to crack down on criminal suspects in the US illegally. An approved amendment by Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, would allow local law enforcement officers to ask people about their immigration status during an arrest or a lawful detention, like a routine traffic stop. A previous version gave officers the authority to do so only if a person was arrested.

Some law enforcement officials-including Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez-prefer a more nuanced approach rather than a wholesale roundup of all undocumented immigrants, honoring ICE detainers when they involve felons.

After Anchia pressed Villalba on crime rates among immigrant communities and other statistics, the Democrat suggested his GOP colleagues were pursuing the bill because of emotion and prejudice, not a real policy need.

Through it all, Geren stood his ground and said the bill wasn't about targeting minorities or about racial profiling.

Supporters said the bill is about enforcing the rule of law and ensuring jails across the state all follow the same rules.

Nearly every amendment and procedural maneuver proposed by Democrats was defeated by a similar tally.

But to protest a Texas House bill targeting sanctuary cities, Texas State Representative Victoria Neave is trying something different: a hunger strike.

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Texas doesn't now have any sanctuary cities, but that hasn't stopped Abbott and Republican legislative leaders from pushing aggressively for a ban.

"If they feel fear, sadly we feel they won't come forward with critical information", Acosta said.

Opponents of the measure say it would make communities less safe as many undocumented immigrants would be reluctant to reach out to police for fear of being deported. Members from CAAP believe the Texas house is dragging its feet to move the piece of legislation which has them upset.

Senate Bill 4 will go up for debate tomorrow in the House.

It also comes after a federal judge on Tuesday ruled that President Donald Trump exceeded his authority when he signed an executive order withholding federal money from "sanctuary" cities in the country. Similar efforts have collapsed in the past, meaning the issue isn't yet fully settled.

Hernandez praised House Democrats for spending hours speaking against the bill in a statement Thursday saying, "They recognized the cost of forcing local law enforcement to do the job of the federal government and the liability it places upon us".

"This is a show-me-your-papers law".

"Individuals are not going to want to testify in court about a crime if they are anxious that their immigration status is going to be checked", she said.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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