Texas Tribune by Julian Aguilar
Like parents threatening to withhold allowance from a misbehaving child, proponents of the Republican-backed sanctuary cities bill are warning local authorities across the state: Comply with the bill or face the fiscal consequences.
The legislation, by state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, prevents cities, counties and other governmental entities from adopting policies that prevent law enforcement officers or other employees from inquiring into the immigration status of a person arrested or lawfully detained. Authorities can subsequently report individuals to federal immigration officials if they are thought to be in the country illegally.
If Senate Bill 9 passes both chambers of the Texas Legislature — which could happen as early as this week — communities that prohibit such immigration screenings would lose state grant money. But how much is uncertain.
“There are few, if any, states that provide less funding to cities than Texas,” said John Bender, a spokesman for the Texas Municipal League, which lobbies for local governments.
The state’s conservative spending principles — and this session’s budget cuts — could take the sting out of the monetary sanctions. The huge budget shortfall that led to billions of dollars in cuts to public education and health care also meant less for cities for several grant programs, according to Municipal League data. The organization’s numbers indicate that cities across the state will receive about $153.7 million less in the next biennium than the roughly $439.6 million they are currently appropriated. The money is already distributed among several hundred entities, Bender said. And that dilutes the possible sanctions even further.