February 7, 2017; Texas Tribune
On Wednesday, the Texas Senate voted 20 to 10 along party lines to approve a bill that would punish “sanctuary jurisdictions”—local governments, college campuses, and state entities that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities by detaining undocumented immigrants already in custody. The bill is on a fast track, having been marked as an emergency item by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and would fine and deny state grant money to sanctuary jurisdictions. It now heads to the House.
Also notable on a day that featured Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) being shut down on the Senate floor, another provision of this new law would levy fines against local or state officials who “subvert” SB 4’s requirements. The fines vary from $1,000 to $1,500 for the first offense, and $25,000 to $25,500 for subsequent offenses.
Abbott, as some readers may know, cut $1.5 million in state funding for Travis County after Sheriff Sally Hernandez (see her statement here) declared her police department would cooperate only in a limited way with ICE in order to continue to best serve the safety of the community. The bill would take that response “to scale.” (Since then, by the way, more than 1300 donors have given the department more than $100,000 as a partial offset.)
State Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), who originally filed the bill, amended it on Tuesday to “add tough civil and criminal penalties for entities that don’t comply with the bill’s provisions. One amendment would make a department head whose agency violates the provisions of SB 4 subject to criminal prosecution in the form of a Class A misdemeanor.” Thus SB 4 would create a new crime: failing to participate in federal immigration enforcement.—Ruth McCambridge