The war over illegal immigration took a new turn when Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that banned so-called “#sanctuary cities” in the Lone Star State. The bill will allow law enforcement officers to question people who have been detained, including at traffic stops, about their immigration status. The law will also prohibit local and county governments from passing laws preventing police officers from doing so. It provides legal sanctions, including fines, for local officials who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agents.

The law has stirred powerful emotions on both sides of the issue. Proponents cite cases such as that of Kate Steinle who was murdered by an illegal immigrant in #San Francisco who, despite multiple deportations and felony convictions, had been released by that city’s sheriff’s department after his arrest for an outstanding drug warren.

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ICE had issued a detainer request for the suspect, but the department, following San Francisco’s policy of noncooperation with federal immigration officials, released him anyway. Supporters of strict immigration enforcement point out that Kate Steinle would still be alive were San Francisco had not become a sanctuary city.

Opponents of the law claim that it will lead to noncooperation by illegal aliens with local law enforcement out of fear of being deported. They also argue that it will result in racial profiling since many illegal immigrants are Hispanic. The opponents, including the ACLU, have vowed to take the state of Texas to court to stop the enforcement of the law. They also pledge to make it an issue in Texas elections in a strategy to turn the deep red, Republican-dominated state to Democratic control.

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Proponents counter that illegal immigrants are, by definition, criminals as they have violated the law just by being inside the #United States. Local and county elected officials should be considered criminals as well if they, in effect, aid and abet people who are not supposed to be inside the country, to begin with.

Immigration is not going away as an issue anytime soon. Between President Trump’s attempts to build a wall along the southern border to the White House’s attempt to restrict entry into the country from countries designated as hotbeds of terrorism, illegal immigration will be an issue in American elections for the foreseeable future. One bright note, from the point of view of immigration hawks, attempts to illegally enter the United States dropped off considerably since Donald Trump became president. The sharp decline has been attributed to stricter border enforcement and the president’s forthright rhetoric concerning the issue of illegal immigration.