Banning “sanctuary cities” is a legislative priority for Texas Governor Greg Abbott and lawmakers are swiftly moving it through this legislative session.
SB-4 passed the Texas Senate on Tuesday night, 20-11. More than 35 amendments were presented to the bill which was authored by Lubbock State Senator Charles Perry. A key amendment, which Perry also proposed, was passed down party lines. It makes not honoring an I.C.E. detainer a crime and allows for an elected official who doesn’t comply to be removed from office. ,
“Our intention is to make it state law for our law enforcement officers to obey the detainers from I.C.E. and if they don't, there are consequences both civil and criminal,” says State Senator Dawn Buckingham. The Republican from Lakeway was one of the 20 Senators who supported the amendment. “We think this is a public safety issue,” she says, adding, “we take it very seriously. I can tell you as a mom and a doctor, not just a Senator, I feel like the policy to not honor the detainers truly threatens the safety of our communities and we want a safe Travis County and a safe Texas.”
State Senator Kirk Watson is Buckingham’s colleague on the other side of the aisle. The Democrat who represents Travis County and part of Bastrop believes this piece of legislation goes too far. “This is just partisan piling on,” he says adding, “It is an effort to get bigger and bigger sticks to punish local elected officials that some people elected to the legislature don't agree with.”
Watson says the amendment added to SB-4 is directly targeting Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez. The policy she is enforcing only honors I.C.E. detainers for four major crimes.
“It's a sad day in our state when just raw partisanship takes us down paths where there's not thought to what we ought to be doing,” he says.