Texas House Passes Anti-Sanctuary Cities Bill

After 16 hours of debate, the Texas House finally approves an anti-sanctuary cities bill. 

Senate Bill 4 passed by a 93-54 vote just before 3 am Thursday.  It punishes local governments who adopt so-called sanctuary city policies by not cooperating with federal immigration officials.

There were some changes to the bill.  House lawmakers took out a provision that would cut funding to local programs if an official violates the law.

Early into Wednesday's debate, Dallas-area Democrat Rafael Anchia called the measure racist.

"This feels incredibly disrespectful of a lot of people in our state," Anchia said from the House floor.  "This bill and the premise of this bill is built on a series of lies that have been told to you."

But Dallas-Republican Jason Villalba argued it’s about keeping communities safe, insisting SB 4 only targets criminal aliens.

"If you are here and you are undocumented and you have violated some law and have been detained or arrested, we're going to send you back to your community, your country of origin," he said.

Democrat Victoria Neave was one of several lawmakers who staged a hunger strike in protest of the bill.

"I have second grade teachers talking to me about the fear that they are seeing and their students coming to them asking 'What is going to happen to me if my parents are deported?' -- these are second graders," said Neave.

Republican Charlie Geren insisted the bill does not give local police authority to deport anyone.

"That is left solely up to the federal government after the detainer request is honored and that person is picked up by the feds, the feds will determine whether that person is deported or not, the state does not deport," he said.

Gov. Greg Abbott already vowed to sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk.

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