Pennsylvania and Texas State Senates Pass Bills to Ban Sanctuary Cities

Photo Courtesy: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Via Tenth Amendment Center

Some U.S. cities, and the state of California, have refused to participate in a narrow segment of federal immigration enforcement. In all of these situations, government and law enforcement agencies in these cities don’t actively stop ICE from enforcing immigration laws. However, in a narrow sense, they simply don’t provide any support or assistance to federal agents. These cities leave it to the federal government to enforce federal law.

Non-cooperation with federal enforcement rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot force states or their political subdivisions to help implement or enforce any federal act or regulatory program.

It would appear that Pres. Trump recognizes this as well. In his Jan. 25 Executive Order on “sanctuary jurisdictions,” he acknowledges that his policy of having state and local agents act as interior federal immigration enforcement will be done “with the consent of State or local officials.”

The represents a constitutional way to force cities to help enforce immigration laws. The federal government cannot do it. But if a state decides it wants to spend its time, money and resources assisting the federal government, they can certainly make that choice.


HARRISBURG, Pa. (Feb. 7, 2017) – A bill that would effectively prohibit so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with enforcement of some federal immigration laws passed the Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday.

A coalition of 22 Republican senators sponsored Senate Bill 10 (SB10). The legislation would require the governing body of all Pennsylvania municipalities, their officers and employees. and local law enforcement agencies to act as federal agents.

It would ban all local governments in Pennsylvania from adopting a “rule, order, ordinance or policy which prohibits the enforcement of a Federal law… pertaining to an immigrant or immigrations.”  In essence, this would require all local law enforcement agents to act as federal immigration enforcement agents.

Any municipal government or law enforcement agency violating the provisions of the proposed law would lose state grants and eligibility to participate in the sale of surplus state property. It would also make a “municipality of refuge” liable for damages caused by an individual released from custody who was the subject to and immigration detainer request.

Passage of this legislation would effectively prohibit the establishment of sanctuary cities in the state.

SB10 passed the Senate by a 37-12 vote. SB10 will now move to the House for further consideration.


AUSTIN, Texas (Feb. 8, 2017) – A bill that would effectively prohibit so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with enforcement of some federal immigration laws passed the Texas Senate today.

Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) filed Senate Bill 4 (SB4) along with 19 cosponsors. The legislation would broadly prohibit local government entities from discouraging the enforcement of federal immigration law.

a)  A local entity or campus police department shall not:

(1)  adopt, enforce, or endorse a policy under which the entity or department prohibits or discourages the enforcement of immigration laws; or

(2)  by consistent actions prohibit or discourage the enforcement of immigration laws.

A local government entity found in violation of the proposed law would be subject to the loss of state grant funds. Hospitals would be exempt from the requirements.

SB4 would, in-essence, require state and local law enforcement officers to do the job of federal immigration agents for the federal government. It also adds a penalty for refusing to do so. From the Austin American-Statesman:

SB 4 would create a new crime — failure to follow regulations that require police and sheriff’s departments to participate in federal immigration enforcement.

The Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum punishment of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine, could be assessed against police chiefs, sheriffs, city and county officials and anyone in a position of authority who block law officers from asking detainees about their immigration status or fail to honor detention requests from federal immigration authorities.

SB4 passed the Senate by a party-line 20-10 vote.  SB4 will now move to the House for further consideration.

Contact your Pennsylvania and Texas state representatives and urge them to pass these bills! If you live in another state, contact your legislators and ask them to get on board!

Find your representatives here: