Texas lawmakers spent numerous hours of the 82nd Legislative session working on what has become a very hotly debated topic: Sanctuary Cities Legislation. The topic was not only on the agenda for the regular session, but was also declared an emergency item by Governor Rick Perry for the special session as well.
Gov. Perry said he put the measure on the special session agenda after it stalled in the regular Legislative session, because law enforcement officers need the ability to make discretionary decisions in regards to the immigration status of a person. Very similar to the Arizona immigration debate, those opposed to the bill argue that it will lead to racial profiling, as well as cause fear and distrust from Hispanics.
The Bill, known as Senate Bill 9, would outlaw sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants. The bill would also prevent law enforcement from asking about the immigration status of anyone who is arrested.
While Senate Bill 9 passed in the Senate, it failed to pass in the House when put to a vote on Saturday, July 2. The failure top pass Senate Bill 9 came as quite a shock, due to the fact that the House, with a Republican super-majority, was expected to pass the bill with virtual ease.
Gov. Rick Perry placed the blame for the failure of the bill to pass on Republican Sen. Robert Duncan. Though none of the Republican legislative delegates would criticize Gov. Perry for specifically blaming their colleague, there were many Democrats who had no problem criticizing him. There are some who feel Gov. Perry “threw Mr. Duncan under the buss to score political points with the conservative Republican base because he intends to run for president.”
While the Sanctuary Cities Ban bill failed to pass, another piece of immigration-related legislation will become law by the end of this year. A provision in Senate Bill 1, which was approved by both the Senate and the House, will require proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residence before they can get or renew a Texas driver’s license.
The driver’s license provision in Senate Bill 1 will impact most all Texas adults, whereas the Sanctuary Cities Ban bill would only impact those who have contact with law enforcement officers. Those who support the passing of Senate Bill 1 say that it will help combat criminal activity and terrorism by illegal immigrants. However, those who oppose Senate Bill 1 say it will force illegal immigrants to who have been in the United States for years to either drive without a license or be deported.
Senate Bill 1, with the driver’s license provision, is now simply awaiting Governor Perry‘s signature, which he is expected with no problems at all.