Texas House approves ‘sanctuary city’ ban after nearly 16 hours of emotional debate

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AUSTIN, Texas — After nearly 16 hours of emotional debate, the Texas House approved a bill early Thursday that seeks to ban ‘sanctuary cities’ in a 93-54 vote.

Texas House Bill #4, will ban local laws that prevent authorities from enforcing immigration laws and asking about a person’s immigration status. It also threatens to jail police chiefs and sheriffs who help support ‘sanctuary cities’ by refusing to follow the Trump administration in its initiative to crackdown on illegal immigration.

Bill supporters believe the measure simply reinforces current laws and provides consistent guidelines to law enforcement. However, most critics argue the bill will drive a wedge between law enforcement and immigrants.

Despite testimonies from immigrant families and multiple points raised against the bill, the course of the debate was largely steered by the Republican Caucus and its overwhelming majority, according to Texas Rep. Eddie Rodriguez.

The Republican-controlled Texas Senate approved the Senate Bill 4 in a 20 -11 vote in February before sending it to the Texas House. Gov. Greg Abbott said he will sign the bill into law after its approved by both the senate and the house, according to CNN reports.

Immigrant families and other protesters gathered Wednesday morning to protest against the measure. In addition, at least two Texas state lawmakers staged a hunger strike in opposition to the bill.

“And you used to never expect a bill like this to pass. And so we hope that our state legislators come to their senses and recognize that they shouldn’t pass a bill that’s bad for our public safety, bad for our economy, and is likely unconstitutional,” Austin City Council member Greg Casar told CNN in an interview.