After weeks of heated debate, sit-ins and protests at the state Capitol in Austin, Texas lawmakers Wednesday night passed the sweeping bill that would ban sanctuary cities and allow police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detained, even those stopped for minor traffic violations.
Gov. Abbott has stated in recent press releases that he will indeed sign the bill to turn it into law.
Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign the measure, known as Senate Bill 4, into law, over the emotional objections of Democratic legislators and opposition from a wide range of groups, including police organizations, who said it would break down trust between law enforcement and minority communities.
Texas doesn't now have any sanctuary cities, but that hasn't stopped Abbott and Republican legislative leaders from pushing aggressively to ban them.
Lubbock Republican Charles Perry, who wrote the bill, said despite the criticism, the bill does not allow law enforcement to demand documentation of a person's immigration status. It not only provides the bill author with the opportunity to share the intent of the legislation, but it also allows the people we serve to be involved during the process as they offer invaluable testimony on how this piece of public policy should be crafted.
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, told Perry that the bill could have dire unintended consequences.
In addition, officials who refuse to cooperate with federal agents could lose their elected or appointed jobs - while sheriffs and other law officers would face misdemeanor charges if they ignored requests to detain immigrants.
"Those are also laws that were created out of fear, would you not agree?" This legislation will eliminate a substantial incentive for illegal immigration and help make Texas communities safer.
Courts blocked other portions of Arizona's law, including one that made it a crime not to carry immigrations documents, which were never proposed under the Texas bill.
"I think Senate Bill 4 goes all the way in protecting our citizens, and I think it's a terrific bill", said Republican Senator Van Taylor. The measure would effectively reverse some cities' current policies, which forbid police officers from asking such questions.
"Nowhere in this bill does it allow officers to stop someone exclusively to enforce federal immigration law", said Sen.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has been a harsh critic of the proposal.
Further more, the paper states those penalties were added to the Senate bill by Sen. She said she has always followed the law "and that will not change". "Officers still do not have the authority to arrest someone merely for being unlawfully present (in the country), which is a federal power".
"It's gone from a bad bill to a really, really bad, terrible bill that will result in police officers investigating the immigration status of a person, including children, without probable cause", said Sen.
"Your own party just last week suggested to all of us that we want to have more federal government in our backyard", Gutierrez said.
"We have a problem in our state and particularly our country".