Texas Governor Signs Law Against 'Sanctuary Cities'

Greg Abbott signed a sweeping ban on "sanctuary cities" into law on Sunday, giving police officers new authority to question a detained person's immigration status and blocking local entities from passing laws that would prohibit these questions from officers.

"We all support legal immigration. but legal immigration is different from harboring people who have committed risky crimes", Abbott said on Facebook Live while signing the bill.

They said immigration was a federal obligation and the law would stretch already meagre resources by turning local police into immigration agents.

A misdemeanor charge was established for sheriffs, police chiefs, and constables who violate the law.

Opponents blast the Texas bill as a version of Arizona's immigration crackdown law, SB 1070, which launched protests, lawsuits and national controversy in 2010.

The law goes into effect on September 1. Seeking to avoid challenges to the new law, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against Travis County and Austin elected officials that asks a federal court to declare the new law constitutional under the Fourth and 14th amendments and to agree that the bill does not pre-empt federal law.

That could soon come to a test. Sunday night's signing prompted a fast and negative reaction from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or MALDEF, which referred to the new Texas law as "a colossal blunder" and promised to fight it, "in court and out".

The Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops also opposed Abbott signing the bill. Barbara Hines, who headed the immigration clinic at the University of Texas at Austin and still serves as a professor there, said there's no federal law that criminalizes declining an ICE detainer. He told the crowd Abbott pushed for the law to give himself power to strip funding from cities that don't work with immigration and customs enforcement.

Texas Republicans have been actively working since 2011 to pass legislation banning sanctuary cities, but all prior attempts proved unsuccessful.

But Sally Hernandez, the sheriff of Travis County, which includes liberal Austin, has refused to honor federal requests to detain immigrants if the suspects were not arrested for immigration offenses or serious crimes such as murder. Other peace officers and law enforcement agencies had more of a mixed reaction to the bill.

In a statement posted to the County Sheriff's website, Hernandez said it was "unfortunate that fear and misinformation" lead toward the measure being signed by Abbott.

Most of the people who are coming into the United States, especially in Texas, aren't coming from Mexico but from around the world. They are now vowing a court challenge in Texas similar to what unfolded in Arizona. "The bill says they can not ask the immigration status of a witness or a victim unless there are particular reasons for doing so". In the seven years since SB1070 was debated, he says, the capacity for outrage about these measures has waned because "we've had so much outrageous news about immigration, so many outrageous things and shocking things have happened since Donald Trump took office".

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