Published: Fri, April 28, 2017
Culture | By Henry Herrera

Texas Dem fasts to protest sanctuary cities crackdown

Texas Dem fasts to protest sanctuary cities crackdown

Texas state representative Victoria Neave is going on a four-day hunger strike to protest a Texas House bill that targets sanctuary cities. The version of the bill passed Thursday is stronger that the original House draft of the bill, more in line with the strong enforcement policies supported by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick than the compromise version of the bill that initially landed on the house floor.

"The bill carries stiff civil penalties for local entities who enact sanctuary city policies and allows the removal from office sheriffs, police chiefs who refuse to comply with immigration detainer requests", the bill's sponsor, Fort Worth Republican Charlie Geren, explained early on in the House debate.

Rep. Mary Gonzalez told the House that she believes the bill will expose undocumented Texas residents to more crime.

Geren, however, said the bill wasn't discriminatory because it targeted criminals, not members of a particular racial or ethnic group.

The bill would stop transgendered people from going to public and government building restrooms that they identify with when it comes to gender. Sylvia Garcia of Houston, said schools districts can opt out if they can't afford them.

Texas doesn't now have any sanctuary cities, but that hasn't stopped Abbott and Republican legislative leaders from pushing aggressively for a ban.

Democrats are expected to propose more than 100 amendments to SB 4 on Wednesday.

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It would also require law enforcement agencies, including jails, to hold people for possible deportation if they are asked by federal authorities. State lawmakers are passing a bill requiring that local law enforcement officials actively participate in the deportation process by holding suspected deportable immigrants on the demand of the federal government (note that the law doesn't apply if the detained person has proof of USA citizenship). She will not eat again until Wednesday, after the legislature votes on Senate Bill 4.

Neave also fears the bill would have a negative effect on law enforcement.

President Donald Trump is trying to withhold federal funding for sanctuary cities, but on Tuesday, a federal judge in California issued a preliminary injunction preventing him from doing so.

Tensions in the House began percolating this week when Democrats successfully blocked a procedural maneuver known as a calendar rule. The "detainer" orders from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are just requests. "We know that we don't have the votes to defeat this bill, the sanctuary cities bill", Neave told KHOU.

But Neave told local media she's anxious the legislation will make immigrants afraid to report crimes or testify in court. Hernandez gave a similar speech in 2011, the last time the Texas House took up a "sanctuary" measure.

"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.

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