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Texas General Assembly advances bill to defund sanctuary campuses

FILE - In this Jan. 4, 2016 file photo, a U.S. Border Patrol agent patrols Sunland Park along the U.S.-Mexico border next to Ciudad Juarez. A new Cronkite News-Univision News-Dallas Morning News Border Poll released Monday, July 18, 2016, says a majority of residents surveyed on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are against the building of a wall between the two countries. The poll also suggests residents feel Democrats and Republicans are ignoring their concerns and aren't proposing solutions to help their economy and combat drug trafficking and human smuggling. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras,File)

(AP Photo/Russell Contreras,File)

A new bill in the Texas General Assembly would cut off state funding to schools whose campus police departments refuse to comply with federal immigration law.

Senate Bill 4, passed in the State Senate on February 8th, will impose fines of up to $25,500 and cut off funding to cities or campuses that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration laws and orders. The language in the bill is specifically aimed at public institutions that “adopt, enforce, or endorse a policy under which the entity, agency, or department prohibits or discourages the enforcement of immigration laws.”

The Texas bill would also force universities and colleges to detain illegal immigrants under federal orders, question detained individuals about their immigration status, and cooperate with federal ICE agents, amongst other conditions.

According to one Republican State Senator, the bill is simply a way to ensure that Texas institutions are following federal laws.

“Our legislation is simple—government entities cannot undermine the rule of law by ignoring our immigration laws,” said Charles Perry, a state senator from Lubbock. “If colleges and universities intend to follow the example of sanctuary cities, we must ensure that our legislation specifically includes them.”

The legislation comes three months after Gov. Greg Abbott declared his intention to cut funding for any sanctuary campus in Texas that refuses to uphold federal immigration law.

In response to a question on Twitter about Texas State University petitioning to become a sanctuary campus, Abbott tweeted: “Texas will not tolerate sanctuary campuses or cities. I will cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status.”

To date, more than ten universities in Texas have called for DACA to be upheld and for illegal immigrant students to be protected from President Trump’s proposed crackdown on illegal immigration. Among these schools is the entire University of Texas system, which received $2.3 billion in state funding for the 2016 fiscal year.

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