With the legislative session scheduled to begin about a month from now, Governor Greg Abbott Tuesday morning went on national TV and made this promise.
"I declared that we are gonna pass a law banning sanctuary cities in the state of Texas,” said Governor Abbott.
SB 4 may become that law. Filed by state Senator Charles Perry (R) Lubbock the legislation would require cities and counties to comply with federal immigration laws. Those that do not would be denied state grant money.
"When we pass a strong rebuke to sanctuary cities and ban sanctuary cities here in the state of Texas, the consequences will be so extreme for the cities and the counties they will have to follow the law,” said the Governor.
In this social media post from Sunday, Governor Abbott noted he has already issued an order to cut funding to sanctuary cities. That's a reference to his dispute last year with the sheriff of Dallas County. Ultimately no funding was cut but Abbott seems convinced the threat is an attention getter.
"Listen, all we are asking them to do is to follow and apply the federal law of the United States of America,” said Abbott.
Travis County Sheriff Elect Sally Hernandez may be the next local official to have a faceoff with Governor Abbott. During her campaign, Hernandez pledged to stop the practice of holding jail inmates who are undocumented immigrants for ice agents -- even if the federal agency submits a detainer request. In a previous interview with FOX 7 Hernandez defended that stance.
"I'm trying to say that just because they are from another country doesn't mean that they should be deported. Let's produce the probable cause, let's go through the process, let's be fair,” said Hernandez.
Tuesday, Katie Naranjo, a representative for Hernandez refused to say if the sheriff elect will back off her campaign pledge because of Abbott's threat. According to Naranjo, Hernandez “is unavailable for comment at this time as she is currently engaged working on behalf of the people of Travis County." Naranjo also suggested the governor was actually talking about the Austin City Council and did not directly mention ice detainers or the Travis County sheriff's office.
A total of six anti sanctuary city bills have been filed so far. One even makes local authorities like a sheriff- liable for damages caused by illegal immigrants they have released.
Currently at the Travis County jail there were four inmates with immigration holds on them. Two are charged with drunk driving, one was arrested for allegedly attacking a security officer and another is charged with trying to strangle someone.