Judge, sheriff will abide by sanctuary bill
Late last Thursday afternoon, the Texas Senate finalized one of the toughest ‘sanctuary city’ bills in the nation and sent it to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.
The bill, authored by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), and co-authored by every member of the Texas Senate Republican Caucus, has already drawn national attention and has finalized one of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s legislative wish list items.
According to a statement from Perry, “Banning sanctuary cities is about stopping officials who have sworn to enforce the law from helping people who commit terrible crimes evade immigration detainers.”
“Senate Bill 4 protects all Texans though uniform application of the law without prejudice. We welcome people from all over the world who immigrate to our country legally, but it is imperative that we uphold the rule of law and keep our communities safe,” Perry said.
The bill has tough provisions that will hold public officials such as police chiefs, sheriffs, and constables accountable by subjecting them to a Class A misdemeanor if they refuse to cooperate with federal officials and honor detainer requests from immigration agents.
The legislation also creates civil penalties as high as $25,000 for failure to comply.
“We don’t want the county or the sheriff in trouble,” said Liberty County Judge Jay Knight, “but if it’s passed by the state legislature and signed into law, there’s not much we can do about it.”
The judge said he would likely convene a commissioners workshop with law enforcement, the county attorney and all parties involved to go over the legalities involved.
“Just to make sure we’re all on the same page,” the judge said.
The judge said he prefers that all involved have a sensible sit down with all parties involved to determine which way to go and how to handle this.
“This involves all of our judicial and commissioners court. I want to involve everyone in the process with a workshop to allow everyone to speak their peace and then proceed,” he said. “I want everyone on the same page. We call it team work. That’s just how we operate around here.”
Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader said it will be business as usual with them.
“We are definitely going to follow the law and we’ve been doing so all along,” Rader said.
Rader said the county, as such, has never been a sanctuary and has abided by the letter of the law.
“We cooperate with all levels of law enforcement, federal, state or local,” he said.
On Friday morning, Rader said one of his deputies stopped a speeder who was identified as an illegal. He was arrested and placed into county jail and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency was contacted.
“They’ll come pick him up after he’s faced his charges here in Liberty County,” Rader said.
Rader said he won’t be like his neighbors to the south in Harris County as he plans on enforcing the law as it is written.
“Sanctuary cities and counties undermine the rule of law and jeopardize the safety of all Texans,” stated Caucus Chairman Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston). “It is disappointing that some liberal sheriffs and police chiefs just don’t do the simple thing that the public wants, which is follow the law and get these criminal illegal aliens off the streets.”
Bettencourt’s fellow Republicans drafted a letter to Travis County Sherriff Sally Hernandez, who previously announced she would no longer fully comply with detainer requests, and highlighted the impact criminal illegal aliens have on Texas.
The letter stated: “According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and as reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety, there have been over 210,000 criminal illegal aliens processed in Texas jails since June 1, 2011. These individuals have been charged with more than 559,000 crimes, including over 16,000 counts of burglary, nearly 700 counts of kidnapping, and nearly 67,000 counts of drug charges.”
Bettencourt said Governor Abbott is widely expected to quickly sign Senate Bill 4, and even tweeted out after the vote that he was “warming up his signing pen.”