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This article was added to the website on 11/27/2009.
A Texas lawmaker says he’s proposing a legislation that would make it a federal crime to share information about an undocumented immigrant living in Texas with federal authorities, as well as anyone else who may be involved in any illegal activity.
Rep. John Zerwas, the Texas Republican who authored the legislation, told reporters that the Justice Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could hold any undocumented immigrants who are living legally in the U.S. without a work permit or other status. If that person violates their immigration status, they could face criminal charges. The Texas representative said his bill would put an end to that practice.
“In Texas, we are a sanctuary state, we do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities,” said Zerwas. “This bill will allow those who violate this law to be arrested.”
The bill would also allow federal immigration officers to demand that state and local law enforcement officials inquire about an undocumented immigrant’s residency status when they seek to obtain someone’s immigration status on a case-by-case basis. Texas would be barred from receiving federal funding if it does not comply with such requests.
Zerwas said he plans to introduce similar regulations in other states that have passed similar laws.
“The feds and ICE already have the power and authority to hold people who are not wanted or are not removable,” said Zerwas, who represents San Antonio. “When an undocumented person who has committed a crime illegally enters our state, they are no longer covered by the federal government’s immigration laws,” he said.
The legislation would apply to any undocumented immigrant and anyone else if they have been convicted of any felony, aggravated assault, or a misdemeanor sex offense, as well as those illegally present but not authorized to be in the country. The maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine.
Zerwas said he has already received “a few calls” from states across the country that have passed similar bills. He acknowledged that he may run into resistance in Congress from the GOP establishment who don’t want to appear hostile to immigrants. Last month, the House of Representatives passed a similar measure, but it wasn’t sent to the Senate. President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has also been weighing whether to support the legislation.
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