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EXCLUSIVE — Sanctuary Cities Subject to ‘Stiffest Penalties in America,’ Says Texas Governor

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said law enforcement and other officials implementing sanctuary policies that release criminal aliens with immigration detainers will now be subject to the “stiffest penalties in America.” He also rebutted the hype and fear mongering being spread by some legislators, liberal chiefs of police, sheriffs, and media outlets.

Abbott’s comments came during an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas immediately following his signing of the historic bill that effectively outlaws sanctuary jurisdictions in the Lone Star State. The new law creates civil and criminal penalties for those who refuse to cooperate with immigration officials and provides for jail time for a sheriff or police chief who releases a criminal alien subject to an immigration detainer. He also took the opportunity to counter the claims that this is a “show me your papers” law and is somehow unconstitutional.

Democrat legislators and left-of-center Texas news outlets claims about the constitutionality of a provision in the law allowing police officers to inquire about the immigration status of someone they have detained drew pointed criticism from the governor. In an article published April 29 in the Dallas Morning News, State Representative Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) said SB4 is unconstitutional because states are pre-empted by federal law in the area of immigration and are not permitted to conduct their own investigation. “The Supreme Court struck down most of the provisions of the Arizona immigration law on this basis.”

Abbott told Breitbart Texas this article “directly misstated what the legal status of this law was out of the U.S. Supreme Court – in the Arizona decision.”

“The so-called controversial part of this law is what some label as the “show your papers” component,” the Texas governor explained. “And what everyone seems to get wrong is they think that that provision was stricken down in the Arizona law. To the contrary, the provision in the Arizona law is stricter than the Texas law. The Arizona law required that law enforcement ASK for papers. The Texas law does not require it, it allows it so there is that one difference.”

“But despite that difference, the Arizona law was upheld by every U.S. Supreme Court justice, including the liberals,” he said emphatically. “The so-called controversial part of this law has been ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court and upheld,” the governor emphasized.

Abbott reassured American citizens living in Texas this bill does nothing to change their daily lives. “For American citizens, this bill has no impact on them whatsoever, and they have absolutely nothing to be concerned about,” Abbott reassured. “There’s only one group of people that is targeted by this legislation and that is people who are in this country illegally, who have committed violent crimes, and are subject to an ICE detainer request.”

“No one has to do anything different from the way they’ve been operating their lives before this law was signed,” he said referring to a situation where someone is stopped for a traffic violation, ”because it poses no danger, no challenge, no difficulty, for any American citizen.”

The law’s author, Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), said police can already inquire about the immigration status of a person they detain, during a Q&A on the Senate Floor during final passage of the bill. He said this bill doesn’t change anything in this regard and citizens and legal residents do not need “carry papers” to prove they are here legally.

The new law does pose a threat to law enforcement officials who choose to ignore detainer requests on illegal immigrants in their jails from immigration officials.

“All law enforcement officers are going to be required to follow this law,” the governor stated. “If they refuse to follow this law, or if they adopt sanctuary city policies, they are subject now to the stiffest penalties in America for adopting sanctuary city policies – which includes jail time where sheriffs could wind up in the same jail they may be releasing inmates from who are the subject of ICE detainer requests.”

“But these officials also are subject to a removal action,” he advised, “and the counties or cities in which they operate are subject to very stiff fines.” The governor said these fines can go up to $25,000 per day. The law makes ignoring an immigration detainer a Class A misdemeanor, Breitbart Texas reported.

Referring to Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who have either ignored or threatened to ignore immigration detainers, Abbott said they must come into compliance with the law. “If they don’t change their policies, if they continue to handle detainers on a case-by-case basis that means they will be in violation of this law and subject to its penalties,” he said firmly.

Governor Abbott explained that he believes this law will make Texas a safer place and help avoid tragedies like what happened in the sanctuary city of San Francisco with the murder of Kate Steinle by a previously deported illegal alien released from the local jail.

“This law makes Texans safer because it prevents the types of policies that California has that lead to the tragic murder of Kate Steinle. It prevents the types of policies that were adopted by the Travis County sheriff who had policies that release back out on the street, people who are either accused of, or even convicted of, very dangerous crimes and so Texas is going to be a safer place by ensuring that law enforcement will work with federal officials to ensure that we keep behind bars, and remove from this country, those who pose a danger to our fellow Americans.”

The new sanctuary city law goes into effect September 1, 2017.

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 and Facebook.

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