Texas House OKs 'sanctuary city' ban with tough jail penalty

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Wednesday night, dozens of protesters, many waving signs and banners skewering the bill and its supporters, gathered inside the Texas Capitol to chant pro-immigrant slogans in English and Spanish.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas House approved a strict ban on "sanctuary cities" Thursday, empowering local police to enforce federal immigration law against anyone they detain and threatening police chiefs and sheriffs who refuse to do so with jail. With the House debate only days away, Neave said she is "praying for a miracle". "This bill specifically targets criminals who happen to be here illegally", Geren said.

Senate Bill 4 by state Sen.

Facing heckles on the floor, Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, issued an emotionally charged warning, likely echoing the thoughts of his Democratic colleagues: "Don't mess with us today".

Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez has become a flashpoint in the debate over sanctuary cities after she adopted a policy in January limiting the county's cooperation with those so-called detainer requests, which are meant to give immigration officers time to take inmates into federal custody for possible deportation proceedings.

The woman's mother initially reported her missing about 2 a.m. and called police about 4 a.m.to report cries from a shed behind Dunn's house, police said. They also tried to shield children from questioning.

A Democrat state lawmaker in Texas is on a four-day hunger strike in protest of a bill that would ban Texas localities from prohibiting law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials.

Immigrant groups decried the bills's passage, while Democrats said it was a "dark day for the Texas Legislature".

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The bill also allows police to ask people about their immigration status during a lawful detention, even for minor infractions like jay-walking.

Though House Democrats don't have the votes to block the bill, they planned to file enough challenges to force hours of debate.

However, both Geren and Villalba voted against the controversial amendment from Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), which skews closer to the bill's original Senate language.

Neave herself comes from immigrant parents.

"I'm asking my fellow members to have confidence in what the committee has done and what Chairman Geren has done and vote against this amendment because it will not benefit this state", Cook said.

"Think about the awful position we're putting law enforcement officers across our state in by destroying the trust that they have worked so hard to build up with the communities they're charged with protecting", Prairie said. "If it's being fed to us about a way to keep our community safe, then why are we ignoring all of law enforcement that said this bill is going to make us less safe?"

Instead, she sees the bill undermining local policing: "People will try to say this will help public safety, but people are not going to want to report crimes or go to court to testify as a witness if they're afraid that they can be deported", Neave said.