Gov. Greg Abbot now has another immigration-related war to wage: sanctuary schools.
"Texas will not tolerate sanctuary campuses or cities," the governor wrote in a tweet. "I will cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status."
The governor's threat comes as a group of more than a thousand Texas State University students, faculty, staff and alumni petition the school's top officials to become a sanctuary campus. The petition also scolds the school's leadership for their tepid response
when fliers started popping up around campus the day after the presidential election that called for "tar & feather vigilante squads" to round up and torture "deviant" people on campus "spouting off all this Diversity Garbage." The petition says that since the creepy fliers, "a male student was assaulted in a LGBTQIA hate crime just a block from campus. In another incident, the university lost a widely revered campus student leader in a tragic suicide."
While the petition called on school leaders to declare Texas State a "sanctuary campus" for a broad number of vulnerable or under-privileged groups, it also asks that school officials refuse to release information on students' immigration status and prohibit campus housing discrimination based on it. The petition also calls on school officials to try to make arrangements for online courses for students the feds detain and then deport, "enabling the completion of their degree programs."
Abbott didn't directly reference the push for sanctuary campus at Texas State, nor did he say what it means for a school to establish "sanctuary status." None of which is really surprising. Abbott has made similar threats against "sanctuary cities," while only vaguely defining the term.
Police chiefs in Texas' major metros have already bucked against the kind of anti-sanctuary cities legislation State Sen. Charles Perry files every year (and already has for this upcoming session), and for which Abbott has expressed undying support. That's because the legislation seems to conflict with the kind of policies supported by many police chiefs – the kind that explicitly tell local cops that federal immigration enforcement is not their job. While the San Antonio Police Department and Bexar County Sheriff's Office don't consider themselves "sanctuary" departments, both have similar guidelines prohibiting officers from asking about immigration status in routine police encounters.
As we've reported
, Perry's bill could render those kinds of policies unenforceable because it would punish any agency that "prohibits or discourages" any cop, corrections officer or booking clerk from assisting in immigration enforcement.
At this point, it's unclear what Abbott means when he says "sanctuary campus" (his office hasn't clarified or defined the term). But if that means he now wants to apply Perry-style legislation to public schools and university campuses, the "sanctuary" issue just got a whole lot bigger.