Legislation to Ban Sanctuary Cities Heading to Governor Abbott’s Desk

May 5, 2017

AUSTIN – Senate Bill 4, legislation to ban sanctuary cities in Texas, was sent in final form by the Legislature on May 4th to Governor Abbott for his signature. The bill was authored by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), and co-authored by every member of the Texas Senate Republican Caucus, and has been a long time legislative priority of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

Banning sanctuary cities is about stopping officials who have sworn to enforce the law from helping people who commit terrible crimes evade immigration detainers,” said Senator Perry. “Senate Bill 4 protects all Texans though uniform application of the law without prejudice. We welcome people from all over the world who immigrate to our country legally, but it is imperative that we uphold the rule of law and keep our communities safe.”

Among other things, Senate bill 4 includes a provision to hold local leaders such as police chiefs, sheriffs, and constables accountable, but subjecting them to a Class A misdemeanor, if they refuse to cooperate with federal officials and honor detainer requests from immigration agents. The legislation also creates civil penalties, which could be as high as $25,000 for failure to comply.

Sanctuary cities and counties undermine the rule of law and jeopardize the safety of all Texans,” stated Caucus Chairman Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston). “It is disappointing that some liberal sheriffs and police chiefs just don’t do the simple thing that the public wants, which is follow the law and get these criminal illegal aliens off the streets.”

In a January letter from the Texas Senate Republican Caucus to Travis County Sherriff Sally Hernandez, who previously announced she would no longer fully comply with detainer requests, the Caucus highlighted the impact criminal illegal aliens have on Texas. The letter stated: “According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and as reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety, there have been over 210,000 criminal illegal aliens processed in Texas jails since June 1, 2011. These individuals have been charged with more than 559,000 crimes, including over 16,000 counts of burglary, nearly 700 counts of kidnapping, and nearly 67,000 counts of drug charges.”

Sen. Perry continued, “I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate and House, especially Representative Geren for carrying the bill in the House. I also want to thank Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Speaker Straus for their commitment to banning sanctuary cities in Texas.”

Governor Abbott is widely expected to quickly sign Senate Bill 4, and even tweeted out after the vote that he was “warming up his signing pen.” Chairman Bettencourt concluded, “It looks like the Governor’s signing pen won’t have to wait very long!”

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