Texas Democrats on hunger strike to protest sanctuary cities bill

But in Texas, where many Republican lawmakers are more than willing to help deport people who are in the country illegally, there is a bill in play that would actually force law enforcement to do more to assist the feds, including cooperating with detainer requests from immigration officials.

The Texas House of Representatives is discussing the so-called "Sanctuary Cities" Bill in Austin. Other Republican-controlled states have pushed for similar polices in recent years, just as more liberal ones have done the opposite.

"Banning Sanctuary Cities *is* about keeping our communities' safe by ensuring those who engage in criminal activity are not automatically released back into our communities".

The State Senate passed it and the House modified it to only allow police to ask about immigration status if someone is actually arrested.

"This bill has no effect on illegal immigrants if they have not committed a crime or are hanging out with someone who has", bill sponsor Republican Charlie Geren told the House. The bill sailed through the Senate in February, and if earlier procedural votes are any indication, the votes are there for it to pass the House as well. Some protesters later filed into the House visitors' gallery to applaud bill opponents on the floor.

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The president of Venezuela's National Assembly, opposition Julio Borges (R), arrives for a session in Caracas on April, 25, 2017. The U.S.is especially anxious about Caracas' supply of the Igla-S, the Russian version of the U.S. -made Stinger missile.

Any anti-sanctuary city measure may face a tough road after a federal judge this week blocked Trump's executive order seeking to withhold funds from local authorities that do not use their resources to advance federal immigration laws. Getting the bill passed is one of Gov. Greg Abbott's emergency items this legislative session.

The bill also keeps in a place a class a misdemeanor punishment for law enforcement agents who don't hold undocumented immigrants as requested by federal and immigration agents. But Hernandez softened her policy after Abbott cut funding to the county, saying decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis, and she's said she will conform to the state's ban if it becomes law. "I know how this bill will punish immigrants and push them into the shadows", Hernandez told fellow members.

Facing heckles on the floor, Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, issued an emotionally charged warning, likely echoing the thoughts of his Democratic colleagues: "Don't mess with us today".

"Broad mandates for local law enforcement to take a more active role in immigration enforcement will further strain the relationship between local law enforcement and the diverse communities they serve", Acevedo wrote in a letter to lawmakers. "God is watching you!", yelled a woman watching the SB 4 debate unfold below her, before being ejected. The House's bill has a few changes, making it less restrictive than the Senate's, according to the Dallas Morning News, but it still hasn't appeased those against it from the start.

El Paso State Representatives Mary Gonzalez, Cesar Blanco, Lina Ortega, Joe Moody and Joe Pickett are opposing the bill. And as debate began, House members who themselves were once undocumented immigrants or were children of undocumented immigrants made passionate appeals, charging that SB 4 was an unnecessary, racist bill that would instill fear in Latino communities.

  • Phil Peters