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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)

    Bill against sanctuary cities clears Senate

    Bill against sanctuary cities clears Senate

    By Zahira Torres \ Austin Bureau
    Posted: 06/15/2011 07:40:40 AM MDT

    AUSTIN -- Questions may linger over the effects of anti-sanctuary-city legislation, but one thing was clear Tuesday: The measure is almost certain to pass.

    The bill appeared to be on a fast track for passage after clearing what was once its biggest hurdle -- the Texas Senate.

    Democratic senators killed the legislation during the regular 140-day session under a rule that requires a two-thirds vote to bring up a bill for debate but that rule is not in play during the special session.

    The bill, which allows local governments to enforce federal immigration law, passed on a partisan vote after about six hours of debate over the costs, effects and intentions of such legislation.

    It now heads to the Texas House, where it could be taken up as early as Friday. House lawmakers already passed a similar measure during the regular session.

    Under the bill, local governments could be sued and lose state grant money if they establish a policy that keeps law enforcement and other employees from questioning the immigration status of people they detain or arrest.

    Opposition and support for the measure breaks down strictly along party lines in the Texas Legislature.

    Gov. Rick Perry, who is considering a presidential run, identified the issue as one of his emergency items and resurrected it for the special session. Republicans, with commanding majorities in the Legislature, have pushed for the legislation, using border security as the backdrop. They say they are going after undocumented immigrants who are criminals.
    Democrats, who have been joined by law enforcement leaders throughout the state, argue that the measure will lead to racial profiling, hurt people who entered the country seeking a better life and damage relationships between police and the communities they serve.

    Some of the provisions and details of the bill:

    Applies to officers or employees of a "municipality," "county" or "special district." Special districts can include water districts and housing authorities. Schools and hospitals are excluded.

    Prohibits racial profiling but does not assign a punishment to those who violate the provision.

    Allows a citizen to file a complaint with the Texas attorney general if the person feels a local government is violating the provisions of the law. The attorney general would then investigate and could file a lawsuit.
    Cities or counties that lose the lawsuit may be required to pay the state's court costs, but the measure does not make the state pay the costs incurred by local governments that win their lawsuits.

    Puts into law a policy that allows the Texas Department of Public Safety to check the citizenship status of Texans before issuing driver's licenses.

    Requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of every person booked into a Texas jail, using a federal immigration enforcement program called Secure Communities. El Paso County already uses the program at its jail.
    State Sen. José RodrÃ*guez, D-El Paso, and other Senate Democrats failed at attempts to add amendments that would exclude victims or witnesses of a crime and would allow officers to question the immigration status only of a person who is detained or arrested on probable cause that the person committed a crime.

    One amendment that outlined rules already followed by the Department of Public Safety was accepted. The amendment said, among other things, that peace officers could not stop a car or enter a business simply to check immigration status and could not arrest a person solely on the basis that the person is undocumented.

    RodrÃ*guez said that Democrats, who did not have the votes to block the bill, were hoping to "reduce the negative impact."

    "Texas will be viewed as an unwelcoming place towards all immigrants -- legal and illegal, documented and undocumented -- and as an unwelcoming place to Hispanics at a time when they are recognized as the future labor force for maintaining the nation's competitiveness in the world," RodrÃ*guez said.

    Police departments, cities and counties have testified that it will cost them millions of dollars to train police, house undocumented immigrants in jails and fight lawsuits. It is unclear how much it will cost the attorney general's office to investigate the complaints that could be lodged by citizens over potential violations.

    At one point in the debate, state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, held up a letter signed by the police chiefs or sheriffs of El Paso, San Antonio and Fort Worth. He also pointed to the comments made by the Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland Jr., who estimated that it will cost him about $4.3 million to train 5,300 officers by a Sept. 1 implementation date.

    "How would you reconcile your comments that it is such a good tool for law enforcement when the police chiefs of our major metropolitan cities are asking us to oppose your legislation?" Whitmire asked. "Can you give this body the name of a police chief that would support your position? Just one. It doesn't have to be a major city."

    State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, the author of the bill, responded that the legislation has been misinterpreted.

    "Politically, it is a very highly charged issue," Williams said, "and maybe some of those police chiefs are responding to some of the pressure they are receiving from their mayors and city council."

    Zahira Torres may be reached at; 512-479-6606.

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.

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  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006
    New rules, new outcome as Senate OKs sanctuary cities bill
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  3. #3
    Related Thread Here
    Texas immigration bill approved by Senate

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