Sanctuary Cities a No Show in the Senate

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Immigrant and civil rights advocates were vigilant Wednesday, watching for any sign that HB 12, the sanctuary cities bill, might be brought up in a final desperate move to get it out on the Senate’s last day to pass House bills. Advocates even held  a vigil outside the Senate chamber which was much more civil than the protest led by conspiranoid radio host Alex Jones and his mob pushing for the passage of a bill that would prevent the TSA from groping airport passengers.

In the end, HB 12 never came up. And it only briefly made an appearance Tuesday night when Senate sponsor Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, brought it up for debate only to have it promptly blocked by the 12 Senate Democrats.

Earlier in the session, the bill’s House author Republican Burt Solomons of Carrolton took pains to differentiate his bill from the controversial Arizona immigration law. He explained that the Arizona bill requires police to check for citizenship status. His bill prevents cities and state agencies from prohibiting it. The reasoning behind the bill was about as clear as mud. But the political implications for Republicans were transparent, especially with regards to Governor Perry (will he or won’t he run for president?) who made it a legislative emergency item.

Advocates, law enforcement and many Texans are undoubtedly relieved that the Senate took the higher ground. Earlier in the session, police chiefs from across the state spoke out against the bill during a House committee hearing saying that it would alienate immigrant communities and encourage rogue officers to hassle immigrants. Civil rights groups warned that it would create more racial profiling. “We already have driving while black in Texas,” said Democratic State Rep. Rene Oliveira. “Now we’ll have driving while Mexican.”

Now Republicans can say they tried to pass HB 12 but the mean ol’ Senate Democrats did Texas a favor and killed it.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.