Sanctuary Cities Bill Passes, for Now
The bill that would outlaw sanctuary cities in Texas – Senate Bill 4 – finally cleared its last procedural hurdle Thursday afternoon in the Texas House after a grueling debate that stretched 16 hours through Wednesday and finally ended with a second reading vote around 2 AM Thursday morning. After Democrats complained about suspending the rules to allow a final vote, the motion to suspend was withdrawn, leaving the House to return later midday Thursday for another marathon session of Democrats pronouncing that the end of the world and civil society is near.
SB4 passed late Thursday afternoon on a party-line vote, 94 to 53. It is a good, strong bill.
The House version of SB 4 had been considerably weakened in the State Affairs Committee, but the Texas House Freedom Caucus, chaired by Tyler State Representation Matt Schaefer, was determined to put teeth back into the bill and even strengthen the Senate version. We applaud the GOP Caucus and the Freedom Caucus for working together to get a strong bill passed. The GOP Caucus chose to follow the lead of Reps. Schaefer and Rinaldi rather than Reps. Geren and Cook!
The sanctuary cities ban holds county sheriffs, constables, city police chiefs, local leaders, and university officials subject to a Class A misdemeanor if they refuse to cooperate with federal immigration and homeland security authorities and to honor requests from immigration agents to hold undocumented inmates subject to deportation. SB 4 also provides civil penalties for government entities that refuse to obey the law, with fines ranging from $1,000 for a first offense to a high of $25,500 for each subsequent infraction.
Rep. Matt Schaefer’s amendment unshackles law enforcement officers, allowing them to question a person’s immigration status during a detainment, including a routine traffic stop, as opposed to being limited to individuals under arrest. This simply allows law enforcement officials to enforce immigration laws already on the books, rather than look the other way. Grassroots America agrees with Rep. Schaefer that selective enforcement of the rule of law must end. We also agree that community safety, civil order, and national security depend on full enforcement of immigration laws.
Rep. Matt Rinaldi was successful in passing an amendment that allows the removal of an elected official from office through a civil procedure if they violate the provisions of SB4. The Texas Attorney General’s Office would have jurisdiction over the investigation and prosecution of the local officials – not the local district attorney. This was an important accountability measure, since district attorneys in Texas rarely hold fellow local officials accountable.
What is next?
SB 4 now heads back to the Texas Senate where lawmakers can either concur with the amendments made by the Texas House or form a conference committee to negotiate the differences. Should they choose the conference committee route, SB 4 would need to receive another vote in each chamber before being passed. This gives the House leadership [Joe Straus] a chance to appoint Cook and Geren to the conference committee to remove the Rinaldi and Schaefer amendments or run out the clock on the bill! We have NO guarantee Governor Abbott would call a special session – none.
We are hearing that some Republicans on the Senate side do not want the stronger House bill! We do! Tell your Senators TODAY!
1) Keep the Schaefer and Rinaldi amendments as described above — anything less will be a mockery, and the Texas Grassroots will call it out as a FAKE sanctuary cities bill. We already have national media folks waiting to hear what we think.
2) We want the highest monetary penalties possible from the Senate version (these were stripped out in House State Affairs).
3) The Attorney General’s Office must have jurisdiction over the investigation and prosecution of local officials — not the local district attorney! Local DA’s do not hold local officials accountable – ever. In fact, many DAs don’t even prosecute illegals who commit state jail felonies! This lawlessness must end.
As more developments occur, I will let you know. For now, just call your senator to let him/her know you want the three things stated above – no stripping out of the Schaefer and Rinaldi Amendments! We need to end selective enforcement of the rule of law in Texas. Immigration laws on the books should be enforced. Period!
Call you Senator – message them on FB and Tweet them!
[Senator Hall supports a strong, anti-sanctuary cities bill. Contact his office and thank him.]
Too many have suffered the loss of loved ones at the hands of criminal illegals. Let’s all pull together to get this done!
Soli Deo Gloria