Texas divided on jailing delegates to 'convention of states'

The measure will grant sweeping powers to Texas police officers, allowing them to question the immigration status of those who have been detained, should the law enforcement officers have reason to believe they are in the US illegally.

AUSTIN - During his "State of the State" address on January 31, Governor Greg Abbott declared legislation banning so-called "sanctuary cities" to be one of his top priorities and an emergency item, saying: "Elected officials don't get to pick and choose which laws they obey".

Both the Texas Senate and House have passed strict measures created to prohibit sanctuary cities - but each chamber's version must now be reconciled before Abbott can sign them into law, according to the Associated Press. Colorado killed a bill Wednesday that, like Texas' measure, would have withheld state funding from cities that protect undocumented immigrants.

Among their concerns was that the bill allows police to ask about a person's immigration status during a detention. Hernandez has said she will comply with the provisions of SB4 if it becomes law.

"Their prayer was silent, but they sang hymns and held signs that read 'My faith does not discriminate'".

The Texas bill 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.

Nowhere in the bill as it came back from the House does it instruct officers to demand papers.

Texas doesn't now have any sanctuary cities, but that hasn't stopped Abbott and Republican legislative leaders from pushing aggressively to ban them.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has been a harsh critic of the proposal.




But several law enforcement leaders have said the bill will erode the public's trust.

"Banning sanctuary cities is about stopping officials who have sworn to enforce the law from helping people who commit bad crimes evade immigration detainers", he said in a statement.

Patrick praised the Senate's move late Wednesday in a news release, saying, "I have been working to end sanctuary cities in Texas since my days as a state senator". He also warned the law will lead to racial profiling and said there's "not one thing in this bill that I consider to be positive, nor do my colleagues consider to be positive".

He said Senate Bill 281 would affect only local governments that seek to thwart federal immigration enforcement.

"Some immigrants won't come to school because they are afraid", she said.

"I'm getting my signing pen warmed up", Abbott, who has been a strong supporter of the bill, tweeted Wednesday night. Nowhere in the bill does it allow an officer to enforce federal immigration law. "We are very, very fearful that the community will no longer cooperate with us because of this bill", San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told reporters last week.

"The bill will not immediately take effect because of strong opposition by Democrats in both the Senate and the House", said Democratic Sen.

"What we're hopeful for is that communities around Texas are not just going to just lay down and accept this", said Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based immigrant rights groups and private prison watchdog.

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