2/18/2011 4:56 PM
An emergency item that has not been passed out of the Senate is Gov. Rick Perry's call that the Legislature do something about "sanctuary cities." Yesterday SB 11, authored by Tommy Williams (R-the Woodlands), was referred to the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee he now chairs.
The companion legislation HB 12 was filed in the House Feb. 16 by Redistricting Chairman Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton). The two appear to be exactly the same. You can view the text of SB 11 is here. It's nice and short.
In a joint statement by Williams and Solomons, the legislators said: "The purpose of this legislation is to establish a uniform and consistent standard for all Texas law enforcement when it comes to enforcing federal immigration laws."
The bill basically says a city or municipality or public official thereof "may not" prohibit "the enforcement of the laws of this state or federal law relating to immigrants or immigration, including the federal Immigration and Nationality Act …."
That means, essentially, local law enforcement officials may not be prohibited by their superiors from:
*asking a "person lawfully detained," i.e. a suspect, about his immigration status,
*sending or requesting and receiving information from federal immigration enforcement agencies the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
*maintaining the information,
*exchanging the information with another federal, state, or local government entity,
*helping or working with a federal immigration officer, including providing "enforcement assistance," or
*letting a federal immigration officer enter a municipal or county jail to enforce federal immigration laws.
One question that will probably be asked by those who support illegal immigration crackdowns will be whether the bill includes meaningful penalties against cities that ignore the proposed legislation should it become law. Well, for one the bill says a municipality that does prohibit the enforcement of state and federal immigration laws within its borders "may not" receive state grant funds for the fiscal year following its adoption of the sanctuary city policy. Also, the bill gives the attorney general the authority to file a petition for a writ of mandamus to force the "sanctuary city" to comply with the law.
Williams' committee is meeting on Wednesday Feb. 23 to discuss "homeland security and border issues." But SB 11 specifically has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.