Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made an unannounced appearance on Facebook live Sunday evening to sign a tough bill banning “sanctuary cities” in the state, thereby avoiding demonstrations opponents planned for later in the week when they thought he was going to put his signature on the legislation.
While Abbott’s spokesman said he was just trying to reach a wide audience, critics called Abbott “cowardly” for springing the signing without notice.
Though the bill, which cleared the Republican-controlled legislature last week, was opposed by most major police chiefs in Texas, Abbott said in a statement that the law was a blow against “those that seek to promote lawlessness in Texas.”
Abbott also blasted the one law enforcement officer in Texas who appears to have adopted any sort of policy resembling the amorphous concept of a sanctuary city, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who said she would not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to hold immigrants while federal authorities investigate their status.
“This law cracks down on policies like the Travis County sheriff who declared she would not detain known criminals accused of violent crimes,” Abbott said.
In fact, Hernandez does honor detainer requests from federal immigration authorities for inmates accused of serious offenses.
The term sanctuary cities is ill-defined and takes different forms in different places. In general, jurisdictions identifying themselves as sanctuaries refuse to hold immigrants who have been arrested for local crimes past their release date so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement can take them into federal custody and try to deport them.
The Texas law would fine local governments up to $25,500 a day for policies that block immigration enforcement. Elected or appointed officials who refuse to cooperate with immigration agents could lose their jobs. Sheriffs and other police officers would face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a year in jail and fines if they ignore requests to detain immigrants. The law would take effect Sept. 1.
SOURCE: Fred Barbash and Samantha Schmidt
The Washington Post