Sanctuary Cities Bill Passes First Hurdle Sanctuary Cities Bill Passes First Hurdle
by Julian Aguilar, The Texas Tribune
Monday, March 14, 2011
Legislation banning “sanctuary city” policies in Texas was voted out of the
House State Affairs Committee today, sending the bill to the full House for
HB 12 by Rep. Burt Solomons would prevent cities, counties and other
governmental entities from adopting policies that prohibit law enforcement
from asking a person legally detained or arrested their immigration status.
The legislation was labeled an emergency item by Gov. Rick Perry in January.
Under the bill, entities refusing to comply risk losing state funds.
Solomons presented the committee, with its nine Republicans and four
Democrats, a substitute bill he said would address concerns raised about how
the original bill would affect school districts. State Rep. Rene Oliveira,
D-Brownsville, originally objected to their inclusion, alleging that
allowing school district employees to inquire about a student’s status would
violate federal law. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1982’s Plyler V. Doe
ruled that a school district could not deny funding to a school that
educated undocumented immigrants. Oliveira said denying education to any
student also contradicts the Texas Constitution. Solomons removed school
district employees in his substitute, but the bill would still apply to
campus police officers. Oliveira tried but failed to amend the bill to
remove school districts altogether.
“We are continuing to put school districts between a rock and a hard place,”
Oliveira said. “Your sanction punishes the entire school district.”
Oliveira’s amendment was voted down along party lines, 9 to 3. (Democrat
Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, was not present for that vote.)
Oliveira also tried to tack on an amendment that would allow certain
government entities to “temporarily suspend” the policy for economic or
personnel reasons, or because of a lack of jail space. That amendment also
failed. The final bill was also voted out along party lines, 9 to 4.
According to the bill’s fiscal note, the measure would not have any impact
on the state budget.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at