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Is Texas on its way to becoming a “papers please” state?

Since his election in 2014, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott has made it his mission to end sanctuary policies in the Lone Star State. He even cited the issue as an emergency item in his State of the State address.

Abbott has been emboldened by the presidency of Donald Trump. Yet, prioritizing the issue has created significant opposition. Perhaps his most notable opponent is Sally Hernandez, the sheriff of Travis County where the governor cut state enforcement grants because of Hernandez’s non-compliance.

That war over sanctuary cities between the state and local jurisdictions has now entered a new era.

On April 27, the Texas House of Representatives voted 93-54 to pass SB-4, a bill that bans sanctuary cities refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The legislation forces jurisdictions in the state to comply with detainer requests issued by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).

In addition, law enforcement will now have the right to question anyone about their immigration status, regardless of whether suspects have been arrested or charged with crimes. It was an issue lawmakers grappled with over fears of possible racial profiling. In fact, the language was initially dropped from the bill only to be added back as an amendment.

The bill does prohibit officials from taking “race, color, religion, language, or national origin” into consideration when enforcing immigration law. It also provides a process for complaints over violations of the legislation.

Texas lawmakers must now reconcile the House and Senate versions before Gov. Abbott almost certainly will sign the bill into law.

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