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Sanctuary cities ban is now law in Texas

Gov. Abbott signs bill on Facebook Live video

Immigrants Surge Across Border Ahead Of Trump Inauguration
Immigrants in McAllen, Texas
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that will ban "sanctuary cities" in the state, The Texas Tribune reported Sunday night, shortly after the signing took place without advance notice.

The law will allow police “to inquire about the immigration status of people they lawfully detain,” reported the Tribune’s Patrick Svitek. The governor signed the law during a five-minute Facebook Live video, according to Svitek, which an Abbot spokesman explained was a move toward releasing news directly “where most people are getting their news nowadays . . . instead of speaking through a filter.”

The law includes penalties for law enforcement and other officials if they fail to honor immigration agents’ requests that they hold noncitizen inmates who are subject to deportation, reported the Tribune, which added that the bill also applies to public colleges.

Under the law, police officers will also be allowed to question a person’s immigration status during a detainment rather than, or prior to, a lawful arrest, according to the Tribune.

What qualifies a locale as a “sanctuary city” has not been strictly defined, but it refers generally to cities that do not enforce U.S. immigration laws or some portion of them. Austin and Travis County have received attention around the issue, due in part to Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s announcement, shortly after she took office in January, that her office would limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities over “detainers”—requests to hold a person for possible deportation after that person would have been released due to lack of criminal charges, posting of bail, or other routine procedures.

Abbott responded to Hernandez’s announcement by cutting $1.5 million in funding to the sheriff’s department.

The bill reached the governor’s desk after a lengthy Texas House debate and protests on the Capitol grounds, including a sit-in, that resulted in several arrests, according to previous Tribune and other reporting.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs "sanctuary cities" bill into law [Texas Tribune]

Travis County sheriff announces new "sanctuary" policy [Texas Tribune]

Abbott responds to sanctuary city policy, cuts $1.5 million in grants for county [Curbed Austin]

Protesters on Texas Capitol grounds charged with trespassing [Texas Tribune]