Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday night signed what he calls a ban on so-called “sanctuary cities” that allows police to ask about a person’s immigration status and threatens sheriffs with jail if they don’t cooperate with federal authorities.
Texas pushed to the forefront of national debate over immigration Sunday night when Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a so-called “sanctuary cities” ban that lets police ask during routine stops whether someone is in the U.S. legally and threatens sheriffs with jail if they don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents.
The new Texas law was blasted by opponents as the nation’s toughest on immigrants since Arizona’s crackdown in 2010, disparagingly known as the “papers, please” provision. They are now vowing a court challenge in Texas similar to what unfolded in Arizona.
Every major police chief in Texas, which includes some of the largest cities in the U.S., opposed the measure that allows police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain, a situation that can range from arrest for a crime to being stopped for a traffic violation.
It also requires police chiefs and sheriffs — under the threat of jail and removal of office — to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation. Republicans have a strong majority in the Legislature and shoved aside Democratic objections, even as President Donald Trump’s efforts to withhold federal funding for sanctuary cities have hit roadblocks in federal courts.
“Let’s face it, the reason why so many people come to America is because we are a nation of laws and Texas is doing its part to keep it that way,” Abbott said.
The timing of the signing caught Democratic lawmakers flatfooted. Abbott signed the bill on a Facebook livestream with no advanced public warning. Protests over the Texas bill have been intense for months and about 20 people were charged with criminal trespassing last week after staging a daylong sit-in at a state building where some of Abbott’s staff works.