Voices Empower

Will Texas Get an Anti-Sanctuary Cities Bill or Not?

By Donna Garner

I asked Maria Martinez, Board Member of IRCOT (Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas ), to explain to me the confusing situation over the anti-sanctuary cities bill.  This is what Maria sent to me:


I’ll be happy to explain what Sen. Tommy Williams perpetrated on Texas .  I believe he is definitely not with us and is most likely against us.  He is definitely playing political games here.  Gov. Perry gave him the opportunity to redeem himself, but Sen. Williams chose not to do it. 

I warn you there are a lot of details which make this narrative hard to follow but it is all quite necessary.  

At the Transportation & Homeland Security hearing, Sen. Williams replaced HB 12 (the anti-sanctuary city bill) with his bill SB 9 as the committee substitute. 

During the testimony of those testifying against the bill, Sen. Kirk Watson and other Democrats got Williams to commit that he would not put back the sanctuary city provisions onto the bill without forcing the bill back to committee for all new discussions. 

Williams also gave his word to the representative from MALDEF saying essentially that he would kill the bill one way or the other. 

Understand that at that point last Wednesday (5.18.11), there was simply not going to be enough time to start all over with the legislative process; and Williams knew that.  

Williams also made the statement that he was replacing HB 12  with his bill (SB 9) because the House Homeland Security Committee would not pass his bill out of committee. 

I later found out that this was not true when I ran into Rep. Allen Fletcher who told me his committee had every intention of passing the bill out which took place the next day. (Rep. Fletcher is the Vice-Chair of the House Homeland Security Commmittee.) 

During this time period, I spoke with individuals from other state agencies who said that Williams was holding HB 12 hostage for two possible reasons: (1) to move his SB 9 out and (2) because of the House’s unwillingness to pass the Senate budget.  

At this point we started our calls to NumbersUSA who began their alerts.  The Governor’s office finally started returning my calls, and the IRCOT alerts began going out.  The fax machine in Williams’ office mysteriously stopped receiving faxes and they posted his statement on his website:


 I should point out that there are provisions that are helpful in SB 9; and we do want to see it passed; but it does not contain any of the provisions necessary to address sanctuary cities. We know this to be true because of the celebration seen in the major media who claimed the anti-sanctuary cities bill was dead.   

 I was informed by a source that the Governor was the force putting pressure on the House and Senate to get the anti-sanctuary cities bill passed.  And so on this one issue of the Governor’s emergency legislation we know that the Governor is on our side.  I have not confirmed this information, but I believe the source to be highly credible. 

 One of the solutions that was being entertained was to replace SB 9 with a Committee Substitute of HB 12.  In other words SB 9 would become HB 12, exactly what Sen. Williams had just done but in reverse.  In order for the House to do this, they would need to have Sen. Williams approval. This would be Sen. Williams’ last opportunity to redeem himself. 

 SB 9 was passed out of committee without being substituted, and we can only infer that Williams chose not to redeem himself.

A logical question to ask here is whether Williams made an unholy alliance with the Democrats to kill the bill.  Had Williams approved of having HB 12 substituted for SB 9, we would have been able to avoid the blocker bill in the Senate and would already have CSSB 9 replaced by HB 12.  HB 12 would have been voted out of the House and on its way to the Governor’s desk.

Instead, we have HB 12 with the sanctuary city language restored; but unfortunately, we still have to get a total of 21 votes from our 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats to get it to the Senate Floor.

[This is called the Rule of 21. The Rule of 21 states that it takes 21 votes to bring any bill out of committee and to the floor of the Senate for a vote.  The Senate under the Rule of 21 makes it possible for 11 Democrats to stop almost any conservative legislation.)

Williams may be assuming that HB 12 with its anti-sanctuary cities language will not pass, and that is why he allowed HB 12 out of committee. We can only guess because it is hard to find people in the Legislature who are wholly committed to the truth. 

I have done my level best to follow the process and to be as factual as possible. In  the end, we are dealing with individuals who are driven by their own agendas.  Furthermore, I believe if HB 12 does not get passed this session, it is totally due to the betrayal at the hands of Sen. Tommy Williams. 

 I recommend that people take the time to review the video of the hearing so they can find out for themselves what happened. It is in two parts, and the links can be found here: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/avarchive/?yr=2011



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