The Republican-controlled Texas House approved a strict ban on “sanctuary cities” early Thursday, empowering local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law against anyone they detain and threatening police chiefs and sheriffs who refuse to do so with jail.
The vote came just before 3 a.m. and followed 15-plus hours of heated, sometimes tearful debate, much of it from outnumbered Democrats.
The bill would allow Texas to withhold funding from county and local governments for acting as sanctuary cities – even as President Donald Trump’s efforts to do that nationally have hit roadblocks. Other Republican-led states have pushed for similar polices, but Texas would be the first in which police chiefs and other officials could face a misdemeanor criminal charge of official misconduct and be removed from office for not helping enforce immigration law.
An entity that fails to follow the law could be subjected to a civil penalty of $1,500 for a first offense and $25,500 for any subsequent violation.