Texas governor blocks funding over sanctuary policy

Cody PriceFeb 03, 2017

Under her predecessor, Greg Hamilton, the federal agency had used the Travis County Jail as a place to locate and detain suspected undocumented immigrants for possible deportation.

Rick Levy, secretary-treasurer of the Texas AFL-CIO, said he'd rather have heard Abbott talking about issues that families discuss around the dinner table.

Gov. Greg Abbott made his State of the State speech this week, laying out four "emergency" issues that he hopes lawmakers will address immediately, and also highlighting some other items on his wish list. A Senate committee on Thursday is expected to vote on a bill that would deny state grant funds to jurisdictions that discourage "inquiring into the immigration status of a person under lawful detention or arrest". He also has said he wants the law changed to allow for her removal from office.

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Eckhardt previously wrote the governor on January 25 asking him to reconsider his threat to cut off funds, detailing the impact it would have on myriad country programs assisting families, women, children and veterans. Charles Perry filed SB 4 which would eliminate sanctuary cities in the state and was similar to one he filed during the 2015 session that would have required county jails to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In a memo sent to state agency heads, Abbott's budget director Steven Albright said agencies may obtain a waiver from the governor's office "on a case-by-case basis". "I'm declaring this an emergency item so you can get to work on it tomorrow". And they said cutting off funds would only burden their taxpayers, who would end up paying more to compensate for the lack of state dollars needed to continue critical local programs.

Gov. Abbott also called for a state hiring freeze in most agencies, saying that would save $200 million in a tight budget year.

"Now, it is time for us to do our part", Abbott said. Despite the hard economic climate, the plan would not tap the state's Rainy Day Fund.

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Several House and Senate members said it could be tough to come up with the additional funding for Child Protective Services and pre-kindergarten while maintaining fundamental services.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups have called attention to the fact that these requests, known as "detainers", have been found to be in violation of the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment which requires due process of the law. "I think if the federal government were trying to micro-manage how we ran DPS, the governor would sue them", Menendez said.

"Some law enforcement officials in Texas are openly refusing to enforce existing law", said Abbott.

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Still, some found reason for optimism in Abbott's omission of the lieutenant governor's restroom proposal, which has been criticized by many in the business community as discriminatory and likely to cause some businesses to avoid Texas. The Senate Republican Caucus is throwing its support behind the bill. "Maybe that's a good thing".

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