Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted a message pushing the state’s House of Representatives to pass the anti-sanctuary city bill and get it to his desk for signature.
Governor Abbott listed the issue of sanctuary cities as an emergency item during his 2017 State of the State Address before a joint session of the legislature earlier this year. Since that time, Senate Bill 4, introduced by State Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), quickly passed the Senate and moved to the House where it is facing a slower process.
Urging the House to take action, Abbott Tweeted, “It’s time to get this Sanctuary city bill passed & to my desk for signing.”
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 19, 2017
After holding the “emergency item” bill for nearly a month, the House State Affairs Committee held a hearing on March 15. More than 500 people signed up to testify for and against the bill. The Quorum Report’s Scott Braddock reported those opposed to the bill far outweighed supporters.
— Scott Braddock (@scottbraddock) March 15, 2017
The committee added two amendments to water down the bill which will lead to a fight with the Senate over how to enforce the new law.
One amendment cuts the enforcement provisions in the bill that would strip state criminal justice grants to cities and counties determined to not be in compliance with the bill, the Times Record News reported. It also removes civil liabilities from government officials that failed to honor immigration detainers if released criminal aliens commit future crimes.
Another change to the bill limits a law enforcement officer’s ability to inquire about a person’s immigration status to only those arrested by police. The Senate version of the bill allows officers to inquire about immigration status when a person is detained.
An amendment to SB4 added by Senator Perry before passage in the Senate provides for a criminal penalty for “official misconduct” if a law enforcement official refuses to comply with immigration detainers. The amendment also sets up a non-complying sheriff for removal from office. That amendment appears to have survived the March 15 hearing.
The State Affairs Committee left the bill pending after hearing from those testifying on the matter. No date has been set to move the bill out of committee to the House floor.
Committee Chairman Byran Cook (R-Corsicana) said the bill is “a long way from being final,” KFOX14 reported.