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Texas Advances Bill To Target Sanctuary Cities

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The Texas Senate passed a bill that would effectively ban sanctuary cities in the state.

Under Senate Bill 4, law enforcement in cities, counties and college campuses must detain an arrested person until U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement checks his or her immigration status.

If the law enforcement organization does not do so, it could be denied state grant money, reports CNN.

"Elected officials do not get to pick and choose which laws they will obey," Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said in a statement after the bill passed the state Senate. "Today's action in the Senate helps ensure that Sheriffs and officials across Texas comply with federal immigration laws and honor Immigration and Custom Enforcement detainer requests that keep dangerous criminals off of our streets."

Manny Garcia, the state Democratic Party's deputy executive director, criticized the bill.

"In the dead of the night, while the very families that will be targeted by this discriminatory legislation were asleep, Republicans voted to launch Trump's deportation force agenda," said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.

The bill passed along party lines, with 20 Republicans for it and 11 Democrats opposed.

"They did what we expected them to do," ACLU Texas Executive Director Terri Burke told CNN.

The bill now heads to the state's Republican-controlled House, where it is likely to pass.

The term "sanctuary city" has no legal definition and means different things in different cities. The most common denominator among the different definitions is that local police are not supposed to target people solely because of their immigration status.

The Texas bill would not allow police to stop a person to ask their immigration status, but forces that question to be asked once a person is in custody for any crime.

Austin Sheriff Sally Hernandez, an elected Democrat, said in January that she'll only hold immigrants in the country illegally if they are accused of murder, aggravated sexual assault and human trafficking cases, according to NPR.

Sources: CNN, AP via Chicago Tribune, NPR/ Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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