Texas stokes immigration debate with 'sanctuary cities' ban
Texas stokes immigration debate with 'sanctuary cities' ban
10 May, 2017, 01:58
Democrat legislators and left-of-center Texas news outlets claims about the constitutionality of a provision in the law allowing police officers to inquire about the immigration status of someone they have detained drew pointed criticism from the governor.
Texas' Governor Greg Abbot on Sunday signed a bill live on Facebook in an attempt to ban so-called sanctuary cities. "In my opinion, there is nothing positive this bill does in the community or law enforcement".
The new law does pose a threat to law enforcement officials who choose to ignore detainer requests on illegal immigrants in their jails from immigration officials.
The travel alert applies to all travelers to Texas, including USA travelers from other states and US citizens.
"Defendants flout the policies mandated by Texas law and object that the legislation is unconstitutional", the suit says. His administration is trying to cut off federal funding for sanctuary cities.
Paxton is urging all local law enforcement agencies to comply with the new law.
"As governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping unsafe criminals off our streets", Abbott said in a press release.
"The use by the state of city and county resources for federal immigration enforcement breeds distrust of local government and officials, who have no power to change federal laws, and can also wrench apart family and community structures", said the lawsuit. One of the first legal challenges came from the League of United Latin American Citizens on behalf of a small border town near the Mexico border called El Cenizo.
Many law enforcement agencies and faith-based organizations have said the law opens up the state to legalized racial profiling and could also place USA citizens in the crosshairs of local police who want to enforce immigration law.
In general, the US administration under President Donald Trump wants to overhaul America's migration policies and crack down on undocumented migrants.
"I think what this bill brings with it is the perception that Texas's welcome mat comes with qualifiers", said Cathy Stoebner DeWitt, vice president of governmental affairs for the Texas Association of Business. The city has had a "safe haven" ordinance since 1999 that prohibits city employees from asking about a person's immigration status, according to lawsuit, which LULAC attorney Luis Vera said was filed in federal court Monday.
The term "sanctuary city" has no legal definition, and Texas doesn't now have any cities that have formally declared themselves sanctuaries for immigrants.
But Sally Hernandez, the sheriff of Travis County, which includes liberal Austin, has refused to honor federal requests to detain immigrants if the suspects weren't arrested for immigration offenses or serious crimes such as murder. She said before Abbott signed it that she would conform to the ban if it became law.
There was a spate of breakouts in 2013, including one where about 150 prisoners - including terror convicts - escaped from a jail. The prisoners broke out after pulling down a gate near a mosque located inside the prison complex shortly after Friday prayers.
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