Texas governor signs bill banning sanctuary cities

Posted at 7:12 PM, May 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-08 10:41:51-04

By Chuck Johnston and Darran Simon

(CNN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday signed a bill that would ban sanctuary cities in his state.

The bill, which Abbott could be seen signing on Facebook Live Sunday evening, establishes criminal and civil penalties for local government entities and law enforcement that don’t comply with federal immigration laws and detainer requests, the governor’s office said.

The new law allows government entities to be fined $25,500 for each day the law is violated, as well as a class A misdemeanor charge for sheriffs, police chiefs and constables who fail to comply and removal from office for elected and appointed officials, the governor’s office said.

“As Governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets,” Abbott said in a press release. “It’s inexcusable to release individuals from jail that have been charged with heinous crimes like sexual assault against minors, domestic violence and robbery.

The measure goes into effect on September 1, according to the governor’s office.

“Sanctuary city” is a broad term applied to jurisdictions with policies in place to limit cooperation or involvement with federal immigration actions. Many US cities, counties and some states have myriad of informal policies as well as laws that qualify as “sanctuary” positions.

In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order intended to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities. The order said it would “strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants,” press secretary Sean Spicer said.

The order declared that entities labeled “sanctuary jurisdictions” by the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security will be “not eligible” for federal grants. The order also directed the Office of Management and Budget to compile a list of federal grant money currently being doled out to sanctuary jurisdictions.

Late last month, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration from enforcing its threat to take away funds from sanctuary cities.

Judge William H. Orrick, in his ruling, sided with jurisdictions such as Santa Clara County and the city of San Francisco, who argued that a threat to take away federal funds from cities that do not cooperate with some federal immigration enforcement could be unconstitutional.

CNN’s Tal Kopan contributed to this report.