Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday night signed Senate Bill 4, the controversial “sanctuary cities” ban that allows local police officers to be deputized to enforce federal immigration law.
Abbott decided against a press conference or notifying the media and signed the bill into law around 7 p.m. after a five-minute, vertically filmed speech on Facebook Live.
“Texas has now banned ‘sanctuary cities’ in the Lone Star State,” he said. “Now let’s be clear, the reason why so many people come to America is because we are a nation of laws. And Texas is doing its part to keep it that way.”
The decision to suddenly stream the ceremony was a topic of discussion by Lege commentators on Twitter. It was categorized as a “publicity stunt” likely meant to avoid protests and keep the spotlight on Abbott. Some noted the governor’s decision not to include the bill’s authors or other conservative leadership — like his possible future opponent Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
Abbott spokesperson Matt Hirsch said they did it for the page views.
Democrats have promised a legal challenge to the law, which goes into effect September 1. It will allow police to ask people who have been detained — not just arrested — to prove citizenship. And law enforcement officials who enact policies that prohibit assisting federal immigration agents could be jailed. Critics have labeled the law “show me your papers” legislation and compared it to Arizona’s infamous SB 1070, which was partially struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.
The bill signing comes weeks after a 16-hour House debate that divided lawmakers, likely setting a hostile tone for the final month of session. Two dozen people were arrested while protesting SB 4 in the lobby of Abbott’s office last week, including Austin City Council member Greg Casar, who was protesting again in front of the governor’s mansion Sunday night.