Hundreds flood Capitol in hopes of stalling immigration enforcement bill

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- The battle over sanctuary cities is heating up at the Texas State Capitol on Thursday with more than 500 people signed up to voice their frustrations with the bill they say is targeting immigrants.

State lawmakers are continuing the process to pass a bill forcing sheriff departments to comply every time the federal government asks to hand over someone who came to Texas illegally. Travis County told KXAN Thursday that 37 undocumented immigrants in jail were released on bond Wednesday.

Before the hearing started, several amendments were added to SB 4, the biggest changes being:

  • If an undocumented person was convicted of a Class B misdemeanor or higher and the local entity failed to comply with the detainer and released the person who went on to commit a felony, the person harmed may bring a civil suit against the entity.
  • Removes the portions regarding the judges or magistrates being notified if a detainer has been issued and the substitute removes the language requiring the court record and case file to reflect if a detainer was issued.
  • Allows for the person with a detainer transfer request to complete up to the final 7 days of their sentence in federal custody
  • Will include law enforcement departments of higher education intitutions
  • The loss of state grant funds will be a one-year minimum, and continues until the entity comes into compliance.
  • Penalties will be top-down, meaning an entity in violation loses their state grant funds and every entity under their jurisdiction will lose funds as well.

Senators will be talking about Senate Bill 4 for the first time at a Senate hearing addressing several items:

  1. Mandate local jailing authorities to cooperate with Immigration Customs Enforcement
  2. Explicitly prohibit local agencies from taking any steps to prevent officers from making immigration inquiries
  3. Take away state grant funding for not complying

"We cannot allow the undermining of our civil and criminal justice system by individuals who chose to be the ruler and knower of all," said Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock.

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott upheld his promise to pull grant funds from Travis County. He made this decision after fighting with Travis County Sheriff's Sally Hernandez over he policy to stop honoring some requests by federal immigration officials to hold an inmate in jail. She made a point to say anytime ICE gets a warrant from a judge to lawfully detain someone her office will honor that.

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