Originally published by New York Times
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed into law on Sunday a bill banning so-called sanctuary cities, a loosely defined term for jurisdictions that limit the authorities from collecting or sharing an individual’s immigration status.
In signing the bill, one of the most contentious that came before the Texas Legislature this year, Mr. Abbott said it was necessary to ensure the safety of residents of the state.
“Texas strongly supports the legal immigration that has been a part of our state from our very beginning,” Mr. Abbott said during the bill signing, which was broadcast live on Facebook. “But legal immigration is different from harboring people who have committed dangerous crimes.”
Proponents of such sanctuary policies, a group that includes some city police chiefs, chafe at that suggestion, arguing instead that the policies allow them to build trust and relationships within immigrant communities.
By limiting cooperation with the federal immigration authorities, such policies give local officials discretion in reporting immigration status, encouraging low-level criminals and victims to engage with the justice system even if they are living in the United States illegally, the proponents say.
The Texas bill angered many immigrants’ rights advocates, who compared it to Arizona’s S.B. 1070, the 2010 law that granted broad authority to local law enforcement officers to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally. That led to lawsuits, boycotts and the cancellation of conventions and concerts in Arizona.
Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the same would come of the Texas law.
By signing the bill, Mr. Abbott has “subjected Texas businesses tied to trade or tourism to incalculable losses and exposed the state’s taxpayers to substantial costs related to multiple statewide and local challenges to this inhumane law,” Mr. Saenz said in a statement.
Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said in a statement that the organization planned to fight the law.
Republican officials in Texas have spoken out for months against local law enforcement officers who fail to cooperate with federal immigration guidelines.
Mr. Abbott, in particular, has been critical of two Hispanic sheriffs, and he canceled state criminal-justice grants to Travis County over the issue.
Texas is not alone in seeking to thwart sanctuary policies. Just days after taking office, President Trump signed an executive order limiting federal funding to cities that restrict cooperation with immigration authorities. Late last month, however, a federal judge blocked the effort, saying that only Congress could place such conditions on spending.
Under Texas’ law, jurisdictions and officials that fail to comply could face fines of up to $25,500 per day, ejection from office and a misdemeanor charge. The law is set to go into effect on Sept. 1.
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