Tue, May 09, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Texas governor signs law banning sanctuary cities


Texas charged to the forefront of the national debate over immigration as Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed a so-called “sanctuary cities” ban that lets police ask during routine stops whether someone is in the US legally and threatens sheriffs with jail if they do not cooperate with federal immigration agents.

The new Texas law was blasted by opponents as the nation’s toughest on immigrants since Arizona’s crackdown in 2010. Opponents vowed to challenge it in court.

Abbott signed the measure on Facebook Live Sunday evening without advance notice, which critics said was to avoid protesters.

Abbott spokesman John Wittman said they chose to sign the bill on social media because that is “where most people are getting their news nowadays.”

The law allows police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain, a situation that can range from arrest for a crime to being stopped for a traffic violation. It also requires police chiefs and sheriffs — under the threat of jail and removal of office — to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation.

Republicans have a strong majority in the Texas legislature and shoved aside Democratic objections, even as US President Donald Trump’s efforts to withhold federal funding for sanctuary cities have hit roadblocks in federal courts.

“Let’s face it, the reason why so many people come to America is because we are a nation of laws and Texas is doing its part to keep it that way,” Abbott said.

Democratic state Representatve Cesar Blanco said it looked like Abbott “wanted to get ahead” of any protests by staging the signing on Facebook Live.

Texas is the US’ second-most populous state, and opponents say Hispanics will now be subjected to racial profiling and predicted the law will have a chilling effect on immigrant families. The bill will not take effect until Sept. 1.

“We will fight this assault in the courts’’ and the ballot box, ACLU of Texas executive director Terri Burke said.

Abbott said key provisions of the bill had already been tested at the US Supreme Court, which struck down several components of Arizona’s law, but allowed the provision permitting police to ask about immigration status.

“They did not connect the history of our culture or how closely that it is tied to Mexico,” Democratic state. Representative Eddie Rodriguez said. “It’s just extremely personal. There is a lot of disconnect. They don’t really see this as affecting people.”

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