AUSTIN—The Texas House of Representatives recently approved legislation that prohibits sanctuary city policies in Texas. Senate Bill 4 ensures federal immigration laws that are already on the books are followed and enforced by prohibiting local entities such as cities and counties from adopting sanctuary city policies which threaten public safety.
"The purpose of this legislation is to protect Texans from criminals who are here illegally. We are trying to make sure those bad actors who commit serious crimes are detained until we can determine their status," said Representative Dwayne Bohac (Houston-District 138), who cosponsored the legislation. "This is about enforcing the law of the land and making sure our local jurisdictions are doing their job to keep us safe. No city or county in Texas should be allowed to ignore the law. We are finally ending this practice once and for all during this session.”
This legislation comes after governmental entities in Texas have adopted “sanctuary city” policies that purposefully hinder or prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and prohibit officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status.
After a very contentious floor debate lasting about 16 hours, the Texas House voted in favor of SB 4 by a vote of 93 to 54. It would expand the immigration enforcement abilities of local police officers and hold local entities accountable that don't cooperate with federal immigration officials.
The bill would also make sheriffs, constables and police chiefs subject to a Class A misdemeanor for failing to cooperate with federal authorities and honor requests from immigration agents to hold noncitizen inmates. SB 4 has already been approved by the Texas Senate and will move to conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions.
“It's imperative as a nation that we maintain functional control of our borders and enforce our laws,” continued Bohac. “That's why I have continually fought to ban sanctuary cities in Texas and will keep fighting to pass legislation that ensures the safety of Texans, such as Senate Bill 4.”
Representative Bohac was first elected to serve in the Texas House in November 2002. During his time in office he has consistently fought for increased border security funding and has coauthored multiple bills to end sanctuary city policies in Texas. He represents the West Houston communities of Spring Branch, Bear Creek, Katy and Cy-Fair.