Texas charged to the forefront of the immigration debate as Gov. Greg Abbott signed a “sanctuary cities” ban that lets police ask during routine stops whether someone is in the U.S. legally and threatens sheriffs with jail if they don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents, the Associated Press reports. Opponents vowed to challenge the law in court; they called it the nation’s toughest on immigrants since Arizona’s crackdown in 2010. Abbott signed the measure on Facebook Live last night without advance notice, which critics said was to avoid protesters. Abbott spokesman John Wittman said the bill was signed on social media because that’s “where most people are getting their news nowadays.”
The law allows police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain, a situation that can range from arrest for a crime to being stopped for a traffic violation. It also requires police chiefs and sheriffs — under the threat of jail and removal from office — to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation. Republicans have a strong majority in the Legislature and shoved aside Democratic objections, even as President Trump’s efforts to withhold federal funding for sanctuary cities have hit roadblocks in federal courts.” Let’s face it, the reason why so many people come to America is because we are a nation of laws and Texas is doing its part to keep it that way,” Abbott said. Texas is the nation’s second most populous state. Critics say Hispanics will be subjected to racial profiling and predicted the law will have a chilling effect on immigrant families. The bill won’t take effect until Sept. 1. Terri Burke of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said “we will fight this assault in the courts” and the ballot box.