Texas Legislature Passes Bill That Could Put 'Sanctuary City' Officials in Jail

ICE Agents Detain Suspected Undocumented Immigrants In Raids
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detain an immigrant / Getty Images
May 5, 2017

The Texas Senate approved a bill Wednesday that outlaws sanctuary cities in the state, threatening jail time for government officials who fail to comply with federal immigration law.

Senate Bill 4 already passed the Texas House of Representatives, and now just needs to be signed by a supportive Republican governor. Greg Abbott previously promoted the legislation on television and said after the bill's passage on Wednesday that he was readying his "signing pen," Fox News reported.

Police chiefs, along with mayors and sheriffs, could face criminal prosecution for failing to enforce immigration law. Local jurisdictions could face fines reaching $25,000 per day.

The bill would also grant police officers greater powers by allowing them to question an individual's immigration status if they have been detained with reasonable suspicion.

Some Texas police chiefs co-wrote a Dallas Morning News op-ed arguing the bill would damage the public's trust in the police.

"This will lead to distrust of police and less cooperation from members of the community," the police chiefs of Dallas, Houston, Austin, Arlington, Fort Worth, and San Antonio argued. "And it will foster the belief that people cannot seek assistance from police for fear of being subjected to an immigration status investigation."

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sternly rebuked the status quo, however, arguing it is "endangering our communities by allowing criminal aliens who have committed a crime to go free."