GOP majority pushes ‘sanctuary city’ bill to passage in Texas House

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — During his “State of the State” address on Jan. 31, Governor Greg Abbott declared legislation banning so-called “sanctuary cities” to be one of his top priorities and an emergency item, saying: “Elected officials don’t get to pick and choose which laws they obey.”

In 2011, when Rick Perry was governor, he made the original call for such a ban. Last week, after more than a dozen hours of spirited floor debate and parliamentary maneuvers, the Texas House approved legislation banning so-called sanctuary cities.

Senate Bill 4 passed the House on a party-line vote, with Republican members casting 93 votes in favor and Democratic members casting 54 votes in opposition. Democrats collectively made numerous and largely unsuccessful attempts to amend the bill in ways to protect Texas’ immigrant communities.

On Feb. 8, the Senate passed its own version of a ban on sanctuary cities, also on a party-line vote. Next, the Senate must decide whether to concur with the House’s version of SB 4. If not, a conference committee of House and Senate members would meet and try to agree on a final version to be returned to their respective bodies for consideration. If both houses of the Legislature approve an identical bill, it will go to the governor’s desk.

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