Gov. Abbott Gleefully Signs 'Show Me Your Papers' Bill Into Law

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Happiest this guy's looked all session.
  • Happiest this guy's looked all session.

Top law enforcement officials in Texas' largest cities spent much of last week urging state lawmakers and Gov. Greg Abbott to reject a bill that would extend the reach of federal immigration enforcement to local police departments.

In a 5-minute Facebook live video Sunday night, Abbott gleefully ignored them, signing into law his promise to crack down on so-called "sanctuary cities" that he says harbor undocumented immigrants.

Senate Bill 4, which will now go into effect September 1, effectively bans police departments in cities like San Antonio from enforcing internal policies that tell cops not to ask about immigration status in routine law enforcement encounters. It would force police departments and sheriff's offices to comply with routine requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to detain immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally — requests that immigration attorneys and even one federal court judge say are often flawed, fall below the legal standard of a warrant, and are most likely unconstitutional. Police officials who don't cooperate risk a Class A misdemeanor charge and steep fines under the law, which applies even to college and university campus police departments.

Police chiefs across the state warned lawmakers that the bill would force immigrant communities into the shadows, make people less likely to report crimes and therefore make their cities less safe. It's not an abstract concern: Houston's police chief has said that already the number of Hispanics reporting rape in that city is down 43 percent from last year, and that the number of Hispanics reporting other violent crimes saw a 13 percent dip during that same time.

Before signing the bill into law on Sunday night, Abbott took another swipe at the new Travis County sheriff who changed that county's policy of cooperating with requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain people (basically, the county now requires a warrant in most circumstances). "Those policies are sanctuary city policies and won't be tolerated in Texas," he thundered. "Elected officials and law enforcement agencies, they dont' get to pick and choose which laws they will obey." (Keep in mind that the feds apparently don't even consider Austin a "sanctuary city.")

The response Sunday night from civil rights groups, who fear the law could lead to racial profiling, was swift. “This racist and wrongheaded piece of legislation ignores our values, imperils our communities and sullies our reputation as a free and welcoming state," said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, in a prepared statement. "Our immigrant communities need to know that we stand with you; we will fight this assault in the courts, at the ballot box, and in the streets if we have to. This is an assault on humanity. It will not stand.”

See Abbott's video below:




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