“Texas can’t change federal immigration laws. What Texas can do is to enforce existing law.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a ban on sanctuary cities in the state. He stated that elected officials do not get to choose which state and federal laws to enforce:
“As elected officials, it is our responsibility to protect all Texans,” Abbott said during his State of the State speech today in Austin. “It’s our burden to deal with the consequences of the federal government not doing its job to secure our border,” Abbott continued.
“Now let’s be clear about this: We all support legal immigration into the United States; legal immigration is what’s built the United States of America,” Abbott said. “What must be stopped is illegal immigration — and worse, the criminals who conspire with cartels to enter the U.S. illegally,” Abbott continued.
“Texas can’t change federal immigration laws. What Texas can do is to enforce existing law,” said Abbott.
Today I declared banning sanctuary cities to be an emergency item in Texas. We'll get this done & penalize the offenders. #txlege
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 31, 2017
Abbott listed this decision as an emergency item, “allowing lawmakers to take quicker action to address them.” Usually lawmakers cannot vote on “legislation during the first 60 days of the 140-day session.” But these rules do not apply to emergency items.
Last week, Abbott threatened to cut funding to Travis County if Sheriff Sally Hernandez did not enforce the laws on the books. Hernandez had decided that her department would reduce its work with federal immigration authorities. She would make an exemption for serious crimes, though.
Abbott gave her until February 1 to comply or face sanctions.
The Houston Chronicle reported:
Abbott also said he intends to maintain state-funded security along the Texas-Mexico border, though he hinted that federal officials may be poised to step up their presence in a move that could allow Texas taxpayers to trim their current $800 million investment.
He said he plans Wednesday to meet in the Rio Grande Valley with federal officials to discuss their new efforts, which President Trump has said will include thousands of additional immigration agents and the construction of a border wall.
Abbott has also threatened to cut funding to any state college that offers sanctuary. Students at the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University demanded each school “follow the model of sanctuary cities like Los Angeles and Chicago.” Abbott said no way.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 1, 2016