Any citizen living within a jurisdiction that has an unlawful sanctuary policy or employed by an institution of higher education with an unlawful sanctuary policy may file a sworn or legal unsworn complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office. The statement must include a list of the facts supporting the complaint and state under penalty of perjury that the facts are true and correct to the best of the citizen’s knowledge.
If the Attorney General determines that a covered local entity appears to have violated the anti-sanctuary provisions, the Attorney General may bring suit against the local entity to seek an injunction to compel future compliance, seek a civil penalty, or removal of the official from office. For detainer violations, the Attorney General may bring suit against the local entity for the same remedies if there is an intentional violation. Local prosecutors may also pursue misdemeanor charges against officials for intentionally violating the detainer provisions.
For questions about unlawful sanctuary policies, you may call the Texas Attorney General’s SB 4 Hotline at 1-844-584-3006.
Senate Bill 4: Sanctuary Entities Ban
Senate Bill 4, adopted by the 85th Legislature, (1) prohibits a local entity or campus police department from adopting or enforcing a policy that prohibits enforcement of state or federal immigration law (the anti-sanctuary provisions) and (2) requires compliance with federal immigration detainer requests (the detainer provisions). In light of court proceedings that have occurred to date, part of the law took effect September 1, 2017, additional provisions took effect September 25, 2017, and two phrases in the law (“materially limits” and “endorse”) have not taken effect. Senate Bill 4 applies to local entities, including the following:
- a campus police department at a public or private institution of higher education; the governing body of a municipality, county, or special district or authority;
- an officer or employee of a division, department, or other body of a municipality, county, special district or authority, such as: a sheriff, municipal police department, municipal attorney, municipal police department, municipal attorney, or county attorney; and
- a district attorney or criminal district attorney.
Senate Bill 4 does not apply to certain local authorities including school districts and open-enrollment charter schools, hospital districts, and mental health authorities, among others.
The anti-sanctuary provisions of Senate Bill 4 prohibit a covered local entity from adopting or enforcing a policy that prohibits a commissioned peace officer from:
- inquiring into the immigration status of a person in lawful detention or under arrest;
- sending or receiving information from federal immigration authorities;
- exchanging immigration status information with other local, state, or federal authorities;
- assisting or cooperating with federal immigration officials;
- permitting a federal immigration officer to enter and conduct enforcement activities at a jail to enforce immigration laws; and
- refusing to comply with federal immigration detainer requests issued by United States Customs and Immigration Enforcement.