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Texas Lawmakers Make Changes to Sanctuary Bill

4 years 8 months 1 week ago Wednesday, February 08 2017 Feb 8, 2017 February 08, 2017 5:17 PM February 08, 2017 in News

PALMVIEW – The sanctuary city bill went through changes on Wednesday. The bill punishes cities that do not comply with federal immigration law.

No specific definition exists for a sanctuary city. Some cities have an ordinance in place that protects people who are living in the U.S. illegally.

Palmview doesn’t consider itself a sanctuary city. The police department does say they leave all immigration enforcement up to the federal agencies.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, two counties in Texas are considered sanctuary cities or areas - Dallas and Travis counties.

One town along the border has a city ordinance outlining its policies. El Cenizo is a few hours west of the Rio Grande Valley.

The ordinance does not allow any city employee or elected official to disclose the national origin, immigration status or citizenship of any of its residents to any agency or individual. If they do, the employees can be fired or impeached.

“A lot can change. Right now, I made it very clear, like other mayors across the nation have, our law enforcement agency will not serve as immigration officers,” Raul Reyes, the mayor of El Cenizo, said.

El Cenizo stands alone with the sanctuary city label in the area. A handful of other cities across the U.S. have similar ordinances.

Palmview police said they don’t question people’s citizenship status. They leave that up to federal immigration authorities. Other police departments said they do the same thing.

Lawmakers debated policies on sanctuary cities for the past year. There is currently a push to crack down on cities that do not comply with immigration laws.

“It allows local police officers, county sheriff’s deputies, constables, anybody that’s a sworn police officer in the state of Texas to inquire about the immigration status about the arrest or lawfully detained,” Julian Aguilar with the Texas Tribune said.

If the cities don’t comply they will face certain punishments.

“As punishment for any entity who’s in violation of SB 4, it would strip their state grant funding,” Aguilar said.

El Cenizo uses grants from the state for their infrastructure. The bill now calls for jail time for sheriff’s and other law enforcement officials who refuse to enforce federal immigration law.

The bill will head to the Texas House of Representatives.

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