HOUSTON, Texas — Mayor Sylvester Turner says he wants to join other cities in suing the State of Texas over Senate Bill 4 – the sanctuary city ban.
This month, Mayor Turner plans to submit a vote to Houston City Council on the issue of suing over the controversial bill. The Bayou City’s mayor tweeted early Thursday morning, “#SB4: I will ask this month City Council to consider and vote to join the lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of SB4.”
#SB4: I will ask this month City Council to consider and vote to join the lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of SB4. st
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) June 8, 2017
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the sanctuary city ban into law on May 7 during a Facebook Live event. Breitbart Texas reported in an exclusive interview with Governor Abbott that law enforcement and other officials who implement sanctuary policies and release criminal aliens with detainers will now be subject to the “stiffest penalties in America.”
Senate Bill 4, authored by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), prohibits state criminal justice agencies, campus police departments, and local jurisdictions from discouraging or prohibiting a person who is a commissioned peace officer, a corrections officer, a booking clerk, a magistrate, or a district attorney, criminal district attorney, or other prosecuting attorney, from following immigration laws.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, the tough anti-sanctuary bill makes it a crime for sheriffs and chiefs of police to refuse to cooperate with immigration officials. These law enforcement officials could be removed from office for providing “sanctuary” for the criminal illegal aliens in their jails.
The provisions make it a Class A misdemeanor for sheriffs, police chiefs, and other law enforcement officers and those appointed by them, to refuse to cooperate with immigration officials. Elected officials also face removal from office when the bill becomes law.
The bill provides for civil and criminal penalties for law enforcement officers who refuse to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers. Local entities, a state justice agency, or campus police department, would be subject to civil penalties of up to $25,500 a day for violating the new law. Civil penalties collected would be used to compensate crime victims. These governmental bodies would also not receive funds from state grants.
Texas sheriffs and other law enforcement officials were at an anti-sanctuary jurisdiction protest at the Texas Capitol on April 26, including Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Representatives from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement officials were there with DREAMers and other supporters of illegal immigrants, reported Breitbart Texas. When asked about whether he and other law enforcement personnel could be put in jail, Harris County (Houston) Sheriff Gonzalez replied, “I guess potentially they could if we aren’t in compliance.”
The controversial bill allows law enforcement officials to ask a person being detained about their immigration status; thus, it is broader than a measure which would allow them to do so only if the person was under arrest. Those against the bill have compared it to laws in Arizona and California and denounced it as “a show-me-your-papers style law.” The legislation expressly provides that a law enforcement official may not inquire into a person’s immigration status if they are a victim or witness to a criminal offense, or if they are reporting a criminal offense.
In his exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas after the signing of the anti-sanctuary jurisdiction bill, Abbott strongly refuted the attempts of left-of-center media, legislators, law enforcement officials, and others that “The so-called controversial part of this law is what some label as the ‘show your papers’ component.” He 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. The so-called controversial part of this law has been ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court and upheld.
Although Republicans control the Texas House and Senate, the road to passage has been hard fought, and hundreds testified against the bill keeping legislators up until early morning hours. The police chiefs in six of Texas’ largest cities, including Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, responded to the passage of the bill by signing a letter in opposition.
Breitbart Texas has followed the litigation filed by the cities of San Antonio, El Paso, and the small Texas border city of El Cenizo. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), La Unión Del Pueblo Entero, the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE), and the Worker’s Defense Project (WDF) have all joined the legal fray.
The Austin City Council has also authorized a lawsuit to be filed against the state, KXAN reported.
Texas State Senator Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) replied to Mayor Turner’s tweet early this morning saying, “Thank you, I hope the HCC will support, Chief @ArtAcevedo’s strong opposition to a law that will place a target on some people! #SB4 #Txlege.”
As reported by Breitbart Texas, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo referred to the legislation as an unfunded mandate. He has also repeated the oft-stated opposition that it would make illegal immigrants in communities afraid to cooperate with police officers.
Texas has been in the forefront of the sanctuary city fight. An ICE report on March 20 exposing sanctuary jurisdictions ranked Travis County (Austin), Texas, as number one in the country for not complying with ICE detainers. As Breitbart Texas reported, well over 70 percent of the 206 criminal aliens released during the week of January 28-Februay 3 were released by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
The sponsor of the measure in the Texas House, Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) said “The purpose of this legislation is to protect Texans from criminals who are here illegally. We are trying to make sure those bad actors are detained until we can determine their status.” “This bill will not affect law-abiding citizens, only those that are in trouble with the police,” he added.
Before he became Houston’s mayor in January 2017, Turner served in the Texas House from 1989 to 2016.