As the repercussions of Donald Trump’s executive order to eliminate federal funding for “sanctuary cities” trickles down through the country, Texas is the latest state in the country to roll over and comply with the new administration.
CNN reports that Senate Bill 4, authored by Republican Sen. Charles Perry of Lubbock, would require law enforcement to hold arrested people in custody while their immigration status is investigated by US Customs and Immigration Enforcement. Failure to do so could result in the cities, counties or college campuses enforcing the rule to be denied state grant money.
What sounds like an unfortunately standard adherence to the executive order Trump bullied through in the first couple of weeks of his presidency is made somehow worse by a statement from Governor Greg Abbott that reinforces the Trumpian myth that criminals and hooligans are coming into our countries in droves.
“Elected officials do not get to pick and choose which laws they will obey. Today’s action in the Senate helps ensure that Sheriffs and officials across Texas comply with federal immigration laws and honor Immigration and Custom Enforcement detainer requests that keep dangerous criminals off of our streets.”
Another fun facet of the bill is that victims of crimes would be allowed to “sue local officials who release immigrants that the feds suspect are in the country without proper documents —if those people go on to commit felonies within 10 years of their release.” How nice.
A bright spot is Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s controversial declaration last week that she will not follow the order, saying “The public must be confident that local law enforcement is focused on local public safety, not on federal immigration enforcement,” according to the Texas Tribune.
Instead of locking up immigrants and sniffing around their immigration status, Hernandez proposed something much more reasonable. From the Tribune:
In a two-page memo, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office said it would still continue to hold people charged with very serious crimes, including capital murder, first-degree murder, aggravated sexual assault or human smuggling.
Hernandez said she would honor requests from the federal government if its officers follow due process and obtain a warrant from a judge ordering the confinement.
“Our community is safer when people can report crimes without fear of deportation,” she told CNN in a statement. Naturally, this did not sit well with the governor, who reportedly cut $1.5 million in funding to Travis County, which includes Austin in its jurisdiction.
The bill will head to the State House on Wednesday where I’m assuming it will pass with flying colors.