Texas Gov. signs ban on 'sanctuary cities'

Abbott signed the bill with no prior warning.

The law allows local police to ask about a person's immigration status.

Texas doesn't now have any cities which have formally declared themselves sanctuaries for immigrants.

"The reason why so many people come to America is because we are the nation of laws", he said, seconds after dotting his signature on Senate Bill 4 on Facebook Live.

SB 4 has been one of the most controversial topics during the 85th Legislative session, with various people protesting and giving emotional testimony against the bill.

"But legal immigration is different from harboring people who have committed unsafe crimes", he said, adding sanctuary city policies "won't be tolerated in Texas". Despite the legal setback, Trump officials are forging ahead with their effort to crack down on illegal immigration.

It would punish local authorities who do not abide by requests to cooperate with federal immigration agents.

"Texas has now banned sanctuary cities in the Lone Star State", Abbott said in a statement from his office posted on Facebook Live. Four others - Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana and Texas - are considering anti-sanctuary city legislation.

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Somewhat less bombastically, the governor also released a statement calling the approval "an important step toward restraining a runaway federal government".

The law is the first to be signed during the administration of President Donald Trump, who in a January 25 executive order threatened to withhold funding from cities, towns and counties that don't comply with the agency's requests.

The Texas and Arizona bills are not identical. The "show me your papers" law sparked lawsuits and boycotts, culminating in the Supreme Court striking down parts of the law in 2012.

Texas has charged to the forefront of national debate over immigration as Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a so-called "sanctuary cities" ban that lets police ask during routine stops whether someone is in the USA legally and threatens sheriffs with jail if they don't cooperate with federal immigration agents.

"Elected officials and law enforcement agencies, they don't get to pick and choose which laws they will obey", Abbott said. It also bans those jurisdictions from preventing the same from enforcing immigration law.

"After years of the previous administration turning a blind eye to this issue, the federal government is sending a clear and necessary message that the laws of this land are going to be enforced", the governor said then. ICE builds deportation cases against thousands of immigrants living in the United States.

In fact, Congress was so quaking in its boots about the prospect of states mutinying and convening a confab to alter the Constitution that at virtually the same time Texas was approving its call, the U.S. House was passing a new health care law without waiting to see how much it will cost - potentially adding billions to already mountainous federal deficits.

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