Texas Governor Threatens to Defund ‘Sanctuary Campuses’

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is stepping up pressure on jurisdictions in the state who promote “sanctuary” policies regarding illegal immigration, recently including college campuses.

In a tweet sent out by Governor Abbott on Thursday, he stated, “Texas will not tolerate sanctuary campuses or cities. I will cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status.”

The message came in response to a tweet revealing that students at Texas State University (TSU) in San Marcos, Texas, are circulating a petition to make the school a “sanctuary campus.” The tweet from “Feisty Floridian” (@peddoc63) asked Abbott if he would cut off funding to the university.

More than 800 students at TSU signed a petition calling for the San Marcos campus to join with other universities across the nation in becoming a “sanctuary campus,” KVUE reported. The Austin, Texas, ABC affiliate reached out to the university for a Reaction to the governor’s threat.

Leaders have since reviewed that petition and President Denise Trauth announced prior to the governor’s tweet that Texas State would not declare itself a sanctuary campus because of legal ramifications, KVUE’s Tina Shively stated. She said university officials stated the president’s decision makes the petition void.

Governor Abbott is increasing pressure on jurisdictions who are adopting sanctuary policies in the weeks leading up to the 2017 Texas Legislative Session. On Sunday, Abbott tweeted, “Yes. I am going to sign a law that bans sanctuary cities. Also I’ve already issued an order cutting funding from sanctuary cities.”

Abbott is referring to an order he signed in October when he said sanctuary cities in Texas will “no longer be tolerated.” That message came in response to a threat by Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to consider honoring federal immigration detainers only on a “case-by-case” basis.

“Your refusal to fully participate in a federal law enforcement program intended to keep dangerous criminals off the streets leaves the State no choice but to take whatever actions are necessary to protect our fellow Texans,” Abbott said at the time. “Now more than ever, it is essential that state, federal, and local law enforcement work collaboratively to protect our fellow Texans and to ensure that our laws are upheld, not disregarded.”

The governor laid out actions he and the State of Texas could take in response to the actions of the sheriff. Those include the following:

  • Passing laws that prohibit any policy or action that promotes sanctuary to people in the state illegally.
  • Enacting laws that make it illegal for a sheriff’s department to not honor a federal immigration detainer request.
  • Evaluating the extent to which local taxpayers should foot the bill for local decisions that increase costs for Texas’ health and education systems.
  • Amending the Tort Claims Act to ensure counties are financially responsible for the actions of any illegal immigrants who are released because the county’s sheriff failed to honor an ICE detainer request.

Since that time, Breitbart Texas learned that now Sheriff-elect Sally Hernandez plans to remove Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from the Travis County jail when she takes office in January. “I just don’t think you solve the criminal justice process by deporting them,” Hernandez told The Texas Tribune during a sit-down interview in her office. “We talk about being progressive. I believe we need to lead the way.”

Sitting in that jail, at this time, is a five-time deportee who stands accused of serial rape and assault on women in Travis County. In at least one case, the accused rapist allegedly poured gasoline on a woman and attempted to set her on fire.

Nicondemo Coria-Gonzales now stands accused of attacking and sexually assaulting at least 10 women in northeast Austin. Some of the incidents date back to December 2015, a time following several deportations of this alleged criminal.

Abbott is taking a leadership role in the fight against sanctuary cities in Texas. In an email to supporters on Thursday, Abbott wrote, “Nearly 20,000 illegal immigrants with 64,197 criminal offenses–including 208 murders and 8,234 violent convictions–have been allowed to simply walk back into American society.”

He continued, “I’m determined to make “sanctuary city” policies a thing of the past during this upcoming session of the Texas Legislature with my plan to:

  • Outlaw any policy or action that promotes sanctuary to people in this state illegally;
  • Make it illegal for a Sheriff’s Department to refuse to honor a federal immigration detainer request;
  • Ensure that localities are fully financially responsible for the actions of any illegal immigrants who are released because the county’s sheriff failed to honor an ICE detainer request.

In November, State Senator Charles Perry pre-filed legislation to “eliminate Sanctuary Cities in the State of Texas,” Breitbart Texas reported. The filing of SB 4 by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) on Tuesday follows the announcement by Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick that ending sanctuary cities in Texas would be a priority for the 85th Legislative Session which begins in January 2017.

“By electing a Republican president and Republican majorities in Congress, the American people made it clear that solving our illegal immigration crisis must be a priority,” Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “That starts by eliminating sanctuary cities, securing our border, and enforcing the immigration laws we currently have on the books. We cannot sit idly by and allow local policies to undercut efforts made at the federal and state level.”

The five key provisions of Perry’s SB 4 were discussed by the senator’s staff with Breitbart Texas. Those provisions are:

  1. Municipalities are forced to comply with immigration detainers;
  2. Municipalities cannot prohibit or discourage officers from inquiring about immigration status during a lawful stop;
  3. State grants will be withheld if the Attorney of Texas finds an entity is in violation of law;
  4. The immigration status must be recorded in a person’s case file; and
  5. The bill protects witnesses and victims of crimes if they are here illegally.

The bill could face resistance in the Texas House. Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) told the Texas Tribune this week that only a “constructive” bill would find open arms in the Texas House. The speaker did not appear to define “constructive.” He added that “sanctuary” policies “may not be as widespread of a problem” as some people think. Breitbart Texas reached out to the speaker’s office for clarification on his statement. No response was immediately available.

Breitbart Texas reached out to Governor Abbott’s office about the potential of a sanctuary city law passing out of the 85th Legislative Session. Spokesman John Wittman told Breitbart Texas, “Governor Abbott looks forward to signing a bill this session that bans sanctuary cities in Texas.”

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.


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