Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday signed into law a bill that would ban sanctuary cities in Texas and allow police officers to ask anyone they detain about their immigration status.
“As Governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets,” Abbott said in a statement announcing that he signed the bill. “It’s inexcusable to release individuals from jail that have been charged with heinous crimes like sexual assault against minors, domestic violence and robbery. There are deadly consequences to not enforcing the law, and Texas has now become a state where those practices are not tolerated. With this bill we are doing away with those that seek to promote lawlessness in Texas.”
The bill establishes misdemeanor penalties for any local police officer who does not aid federal law enforcement in detaining undocumented immigrants. If a local law enforcement entity declines to help federal officials, they would face a fine between $1,000 and $25,500.
The legislation, which is set to take effect Sept. 1, also includes an amendment that allows police officers to ask someone about their immigration status when they are detained.
In an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News last month, David Pughes, the interim Dallas police chief, and Art Acevedo, the Houston police chief, wrote that they opposed the legislation known as SB4.
“We officers work extremely hard to build and maintain trust, communication, and stronger relationships with minority communities through community based policing and outreach programs,” they wrote. “Broad rules, such as those imposed by SB 4, that push local law enforcement to take a more active role in immigration enforcement will further strain the relationship between local law enforcement and these diverse communities.”
“Officers would start inquiring about the immigration status of every person they come in contact with, or worse, inquire about the immigration status of people based on their appearance,” they continued. “This will lead to distrust of police and less cooperation from members of the community. And it will foster the belief that people cannot seek assistance from police for fear of being subjected to an immigration status investigation.”
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