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Controversial 'Sanctuary Cities' bill goes to Texas House

HOUSTON – The Texas Senate has already approved the controversial "Sanctuary Cities" legislation and now it's on to the House where it's expected to ignite heated debate despite having undergone changes that soften or eliminate parts of it.

The measure will be up for discussion Wednesday in the House.

The bill would not only cut funding to Texas cities, counties and universities that do not enforce federal immigration laws, but officials could also be jailed.

Young immigrants came to the state Capitol Tuesday and delivered 13,000 signatures on petitions in opposition to Senate Bill 4.

The bill would punish local and state governments and universities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials or enforce immigration laws.

"They have been emboldened by executive actions that are rooted in racism and discriminate against people like myself," said Maria Trevino, a University of Houston student who came to the U.S. from Mexico as an undocumented child. "It would affect me, my family and my friends."

Trevino said she worries about the impact Senate Bill 4 could have on campus.

“They are scared because of the fact that this bill would potentially let campus police act like immigration enforcement,” she said.

Universities, along with city and state governments, that do not comply could lose federal funding and face fines.

“It's just a means for cities to make sure our citizens are safer,” said Paul Simpson, chairman of Harris County Republican Party.

Supporters said the main purpose of the bill is to prevent immigrants who are in the country illegally and who have been convicted of crimes from being released and possibly offending again.

“Convicted criminals should not be harbored here. They should go back to their home country. That's just a reasonable thing to expect,” Simpson said.

The bill does not apply to victims of or witnesses to crime. It also exempts public school districts or hospital districts.