Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday took to Facebook Live to sign a law targeting “sanctuary cities.”
The new law allows police officers to ask about a person’s immigration status and threatens sheriffs with jail if they don’t cooperate with federal authorities, including honoring requests to hold someone in jail while his or her immigration status is checked out for possible deportation.
Every major-city police chief in Texas opposed the bill, KVUE-TV reported. Republicans say it is needed to ensure that local jails honor requests from federal officials to keep dangerous offenders behind bars.
Abbott, a Republican in his first term, on Sunday evening took the unusual step of signing the bill on Facebook, with no advanced public notice.
The bill cleared a final hurdle last week in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature over objections from Democrats and immigrant rights supporters, who packed the Texas Capitol. They have called it a “show-me-your-papers” measure that will be used to discriminate against Latinos.
The term “sanctuary cities” has no legal definition, but Republicans want local police to help federal immigration agents crack down on criminal suspects who are in the U.S. illegally.
Republicans have a strong majority in the Legislature. They shoved aside Democratic objections to push the bill, even as President Donald Trump’s efforts to withhold federal funding for sanctuary cities have hit roadblocks in federal courts.
The Texas bill allows police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain, whether they’ve been arrested for a crime or stopped for a traffic violation.