The Texas Senate is moving ahead with a bill that would strip state funding for so-called sanctuary cities, those in which local law enforcement refuses to cooperate with federal officials in enforcing immigration laws.
Senate Bill 4 cleared the Texas Senate on Wednesday after state senators approved the bill along party lines; 20 Republicans voted in favor of the legislation while 11 Democrats opposed. It will now head to the House, where Republicans hold a 95-55 majority.
The proposed legislation would compel law enforcement agencies in cities, counties, and college campuses to comply with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, or orders to keep arrested people in custody as the agency checks their immigration status. Those jurisdictions that fail to do so could forfeit access to state grant money.
“Elected officials do not get to pick and choose which laws they will obey,” said Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, on Tuesday. “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 our streets.”
Critics within Texas and beyond have blasted the law for allegedly hurting police relationships with immigrant communities. Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who has publicly butt heads with the governor over her insistence on maintaining a sanctuary county, believes she has a mandate to skirt the law.
“Our community is safer when people can report crimes without fear of deportation,” Hernandez told CNN. “The voters who elected state leaders and me expect and deserve a collaborative effort to come up with solutions to this very complex issue. That is precisely what I’m committed to.”
Her refusal to comply with ICE cost Travis County $1.5 million in state grants, funds that the taxpayers will have to recoup.