Senate Republican Takes Another Stab At Sanctuary City Legislation
One of the first pieces of legislation filed ahead of the January session is a bill that would punish city and county law enforcement agencies for policies that direct officers not to ask questions about a person’s immigration status.
They’re called sanctuary cities, the name derived from state lawmakers’ perception that these metropolitan police departments provide sanctuary to immigrants and families who may be in the country illegally.
State Sen. Charles Perry, a Republican from Lubbock, says his bill will be an important part of protecting the state’s ongoing border security operation that could top $1-billion next year.
“We spent $800 million on border security and it ironically just escapes me that we have jurisdictions underneath or within the state borders that say we’re not going to apply those laws," Perry explains.
Those laws Perry references are actually partnerships and agreements with federal authorities that call on local police and sheriff deputies to ask for identification of a person when they are suspected of being in the country illegally.
But Houston Democratic state Sen. Sylvia Garcia disagrees with Perry’s philosophy; she says the state shouldn’t dictate how local police agencies run their departments.
“I think it’s best to leave our local police and law enforcement agencies to make the decisions about what are these priorities for them and where they should be spending their law enforcement dollars, it’s not up to us here in Austin," Garcia says.
Garcia says local police departments are in charge of responding to crimes being committed in a particular community and are not sworn federal immigration agents.
If approved by his fellow lawmakers, Perry says his bill will strip local police agencies of their state and federal law enforcement grants if they have a policy that officers are not to ask about a person’s immigration status.