Monday, April 11, 2011

"Sanctuary Cities" Bill Divides the Texas House

If the Texas legislature is in session, you can be sure that controversial measures regarding immigration law are being discussed. From border enforcement to fining employers who knowingly hire people here illegally to the education of children who have come across the border with their parents, this topic always raises emotions and voices. The "sanctuary cities" bill that is up for a vote and likely will pass with ease along party lines is no exception.

This bill, HB 12, would prohibit local cities, counties, and other governmental entities from passing laws that would deny a member of law enforcement from asking someone who has been lawfully detained or arrested about their immigration status. If passed into law, this bill also would prevent local authorities from interfering with investigations by federal immigration officers while at municipal or county jails.

This measure would not go as far as the Arizona that made international headlines and caused months of heated protest as it would not mandate the questioning of one's immigration status, but just make it possible to do so without interference from elected officials at the local level.

While there are no costs associated with the bill at the state level, many opponents have raised the concern that the law would cost individual cities millions of dollars in additional jail space and staffing needs.

The bill has made it out of the State Affairs Committee and now will face its test on the House floor.

What do you think of HB 12 and the effort to allow police officers the discretion immigration status? Is this a step in right direction concerning immigration policy or a bad bill?

At Bertolino LLP, our immigration law attorneys follows all of these stories closely and know the latest in immigration policy at the local, state, and federal level. If you are need of assistance concerning an immigration matter, please contact our offices in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio today and let's discuss how we can help.

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