AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Governor Greg Abbott signed a law targeting so-called "sanctuary cities" that allows police to ask about a person's immigration status and threatens sheriffs with jail if they don't cooperate with federal authorities on Sunday.
Abbott took the unusual step of signing SB4 on Facebook Live with little advance notice. He said Texas residents expect lawmakers to "keep us safe."
The bill cleared a final hurdle this week in the Republican-controlled Legislature over objections from Democrats and immigrant rights supporters who've packed the Texas Capitol. They call it a "show-me-your-papers" measure that will be used to discriminate against Latinos.
Every major police chief in Texas opposed the bill. Republicans say it is needed to ensure local jails honor requests from federal officials to keep dangerous offenders behind bars.
“As Governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets,” said Governor Abbott. “It’s inexcusable to release individuals from jail that have been charged with heinous crimes like sexual assault against minors, domestic violence and robbery."
Those who don't abide with the law could face the following penalties:
- A civil penalty for entities in violation of the law of up to $25,500 for each day of the violation.
- A class A misdemeanor for a sheriff, chief of police, or constable who fails to comply with federal immigration detainer requests
- Removal from office for any elected or appointed official who does not comply with the law.