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HOUSTON The Texas House is expected to vote on the so-called sanctuary city bill this week, but lengthy debates on other bills are slowing down the process.

The bill would ban governmental entities from adopting policies that would prevent local police officers from enforcing federal-immigration laws.

If the bill passes, the state could withhold grants and other funding if those local governments don t comply.

Debate on the bill began late Monday night.

Supporters of the bill have said that cities like Houston are sanctuary cities because police don t actively check the immigration status of suspects.

We don't want to live in a society where a police officer can just walk up to someone and say, 'Show me your papers' for no apparent reason whatsoever, said Bob Price, a spokesman for Border Watch.
But if someone is committing crimes in this country and they're not in this country legally, we don't have to tolerate that.

Mayor Annise Parker has repeatedly denied the sanctuary city label, saying the city follows guidelines set forth by the state.

Opponents of the bill say the practice could amount to racial profiling. Some Hispanic groups plan to travel to Austin this week to lobby against it, said Cesar Espinosa, the executive director of FIEL, a Latino advocacy organization.

Those critics argue that the legislation could mirror a controversial law passed in Arizona last year.

Others say local police departments don t have the resources to enforce federal laws.

There are conflicting opinions in the Texas House over how far the law should go, but Democrats have been delayed debate on the bill several times. Republicans have a supermajority, which means they could easily pass the bill if it came to the floor.

The House deadline for voting on bills is Thursday and some have accused Democrats of delaying votes on technicalities to run out the clock.

This isn't about party, said State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston. This is about the responsibility of every single member of this body to make sure that we adhere to the rules of the House, which ensure openness and transparency.

But the next few days will likely be tense as Republicans try to push their agenda through.

We have five emergency bills, said State Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi. We have 15 sunset bills. You have the budget and you have redistricting, so you've had a very unique session.

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