House gives initial approval of Senate Bill 4 along party lines

Representative Victoria Neave

Representative Victoria Neave

She's on a hunger strike against SB 4, aka the "anti-sanctuary cities" bill in Texas.

As passed, Texas' sanctuary ban threatens sheriffs, constables and police chiefs that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials with removal from office, forces county jails to comply with detainer request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in all circumstances and, most controversially, allows police officers to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they arrest or detain for something like a traffic stop.

House Republicans shot down more than 100 amendments that aimed to inject some sense of compassion to the bill and protect an already vulnerable community from deportation. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, the bill's House sponsor, stood his ground and said the bill wasn't about targeting minorities or about racial profiling.

They bargained for more than four hours over a deal that never materialized to cut off debate early and abandon dozens of their planned amendments in exchange for the House forgoing some of the more conservative proposals, like Schaefer's.

"Today we've made real that fear", said Roland Gutierrez, a San Antonio Democrat.

Texas doesn't now have any sanctuary cities, but that hasn't stopped Abbott and Republican legislative leaders from pushing aggressively for a ban. During his state of the state speech, he suggested SB 4 could have stopped Juan Rios from killing two people - but Rios had in fact already been deported three times by then. They could also lose their jobs.

For Neave, making sure the bill isn't signed into law is personal: Her father, who is now a US citizen, first entered the United States illegally. However, when the bill reached the House State Affairs Committee, the language was revised so that one's immigration status could be asked about only if they are arrested.

President Donald Trump is trying to withhold federal funding for sanctuary cities, but on Tuesday, a federal judge in California issued a preliminary injunction preventing him from doing so. More than 1,2000 immigrant families attended a local information session in the last few weeks, and teachers in her district have said that their students are anxious their parents will be deported.

"I wanted to sacrifice something for others who don't have a voice, and i feel a big responsibility to be that voice here and to fight tooth and nail to defeat this bad legislation", State rep. Victoria Neave, (D) Dallas.

Calling it the defining showdown of this legislative session for their constituents and wearing black in protest, outnumbered Democrats had lined up scores of amendments and planned to fight Senate Bill 4 late into the night. Rep. Mary González, a Democrat from Clint, told other House members she's a survivor of sexual assault and feared immigrants would be afraid to report such violent attacks if the law passes. Those opposed say installation is costly and schools could use that funding for other needs. "If it's being fed to us about a way to keep our community safe, then why are we ignoring all of law enforcement that said this bill is going to make us less safe?"

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