New Texas Law Punishes 'Sanctuary Cities'

Big-city police chiefs strongly opposed move
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2017 12:47 AM CDT
New Texas Law Punishes 'Sanctuary Cities'
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott talks to reporters outside the White House earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

"Sanctuary cities" will be banned and local officials who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials will be punished under a bill signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Sunday. The bill, passed by the state legislature last week, was signed in an event broadcast from the state Capitol on Facebook Live, the Austin American-Statesman reports. "We all support legal immigration. It helped build America and Texas," Abbott said. "But legal immigration is different from harboring people who have committed dangerous crimes." Senate Bill 4 gives police new powers to question detained people about their immigration status and prohibits local laws blocking those powers, reports the Houston Chronicle.

The ACLU has vowed to challenge the bill, but Abbott said the policy has "already been tested at the United States Supreme [Court] and approved there." The law, which takes effect Sept. 1, will punish police officials who don't comply with possible removal from office, as well as stiff fines and up to a year in prison. Reuters reports that police chiefs in cities such as Dallas and Houston strongly opposed the bill, warning that it will make immigrants less willing to help solve or prevent crimes, and will drain police resources by forcing officers to do work that should be done by federal immigration authorities. (Michigan's capital has reversed a decision to call itself a "sanctuary city.")

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