Texas Legislature Backs Abbott's Position On "Sanctuary Cities"

A majority of lawmakers in both the Texas House and Senate back Gov. Greg Abbott's recent moves to rein in "sanctuary cities" that don't comply fully with federal immigration policies, a Tribune tally shows.

Gov. Greg Abbott is shown in November 2015 proposing reforms against "sanctuary cities" that he wants Texas lawmakers to consider in the 2017 legislative session.

A majority of lawmakers in both the Texas House and Senate back Gov. Greg Abbott's recent moves to rein in "sanctuary cities" that don't comply fully with federal immigration policies.

As conservative lawmakers continue to press for a special session on the issue, The Texas Tribune has confirmed that a majority of state representatives support Abbott's crackdown against sanctuary cities.

A letter sent to Abbott by the Texas Conservative Coalition on Oct. 28 contained signatures from 43 representatives, and another 14 state representatives have since added their names. At least another 19 representatives also support the measures according to responses to emails or calls from the Tribune, surpassing a majority of the 150-member body.

A previous Tribune tally showed a majority of state senators also back Abbott's calls. 

Last week, Abbott wrote a scolding letter to Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, after reports that she plans to scale back the number of undocumented immigrants her office holds for 48 hours at the request of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Valdez told the Dallas Morning News the new policy only applies to those serving time for minor offenses and decisions would be made on a “case-by-case basis.”

In his letter Abbott said, “Your decision to not fully honor U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) requests to detain criminal immigrants poses a serious danger to Texans.”

In the letter, Abbott listed various state reforms lawmakers should consider during the 2017 legislative session. He said the state should ban local authorities from passing sanctuary policies, make it illegal for a county sheriff to refuse a “detainer” request for an undocumented immigrant and make local authorities financially liable for actions of illegal immigrants released because a county sheriff failed to honor a detainer request.

Conservative activists have urged Abbot to call a special session to pass legislation banning sanctuary policies, but the governor's office says he isn't planning to do so.