The Trump administration’s plan to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration agents, is exacerbating longstanding tensions with some local governments and the federal government over immigration enforcement, while also prompting others to alter their policies.
In February, Miami-Dade County voted to end the county’s “sanctuary” status, thereby requiring jail officials to abide by requests made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold some individuals who may be in the country illegally for up to 48 hours. Lawmakers in North Carolina, meanwhile, approved legislation that would strip funding from local governments with “sanctuary city” policies. (The state’s lawmakers banned sanctuary cities in 2015.)
Raising the loudest alarms for immigrant advocates and law enforcement alike, however, is a new policy in Texas. In May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4, a piece of legislation that penalizes sheriffs, constables, police chiefs, and other local leaders who don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities or prevent rank-and-file officers from asking about immigration status. Immigrants rights’ activists are concerned the law will lead to racial profiling, and law enforcement officials worry that the law will force them to prioritize immigration violations over other, more serious crimes. While the legislation doesn’t require law enforcement officers to inquire immigration status, it does impose penalties on higher-ups who seek to prevent their officers from asking about it.