The Texas Legislature passed the toughest anti-sanctuary city bill in the nation Wednesday evening. The bill creates a criminal penalty for sheriffs and police chiefs that refuse to honor ICE detainers. The Senate passed the bill on a 20-11 party-line vote.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick lauded the move:
I have been working to end sanctuary cities in Texas since my days as a state senator. This legislation will eliminate a substantial incentive for illegal immigration and help make Texas communities safer. In the past six years, criminal aliens have been charged with more than 566,000 crimes in Texas including kidnapping, homicide, burglary and much more. There is no excuse for endangering our communities by allowing criminal aliens who have committed a crime to go free. SB 4 will ensure that no liberal local official can flaunt the law.
Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) stood on the floor of the Senate for more than two hours defending the bill in its final stage of passage. Perry responded to distortions made by Democrat senators about SB4 saying they “made it look like a demon it is not.”
— Sen. Charles Perry (@electcharles) May 3, 2017
Governor Greg Abbott Tweeted his approval of the bill’s passage and his willingness to sign it into law.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 4, 2017
During recent weeks, protesters descended on the State Capitol in opposition to the bill, Breitbart Texas reported. Following the bill’s passage, Texas Democrats continued the fear mongering.
“S.B. 4 has always been about Republicans politically profiting on the backs of Latinos, other people of color, and immigrant families. It’s a racial profiling bill, it’s dangerous, and it’s unconstitutional. S.B. 4 is the Trump Republican deportation force agenda, and now it’s a full-fledged ‘show-me-your-papers’ Arizona-style bill.
Key provisions in the bill call for criminal and civil penalties for Texas Sheriffs and chiefs of police who fail to honor immigration detainers issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, Breitbart Texas reported. It also includes a provision that allows police officers to inquire about the immigration status of a person they have detained.
Despite rumors being spread by the bill’s opponents, SB4 prohibits an officer asking about the immigration status of any crime victim or witness to a crime. An exception is included if the person’s immigration status is germane to the crime as in a human smuggling crime, or when the victim or witness could obtain a protected immigrant status by becoming a witness or as a crime victim.
The bill now goes to Governor Abbott who previously stated he will sign the bill into law. It will become effective on September 1, 2017. Governor Abbott made the sanctuary city issue an emergency item for the legislature in his State of the State Address in February.”
Before the session began, Lt. Governor Patrick also listed ending sanctuary cities as a top priority. Texas Democrats Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“I’m proud to announce that today that SB 4, which will ban the dangerous practice of sanctuary cities, is on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature,” Patrick stated.
When Lt. Governor Patrick announced the filing of Perry’s bill in February, he said it “must have some teeth.” This bill has teeth.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with additional information.