The purpose of SB4 is to prevent local Texas governments, so-called sanctuary cities, from shielding illegal aliens who have committed criminal acts against persons or property. In effect, sanctuary cities harbor – this is the operative word – such criminal aliens.
Existing Federal Law
I refer you to the U.S. Department of Justice criminal resource manual available on line. Specifically: 1907. Title 8, U.S.C. 1324(a) Offenses.
Introduction to the Law
Title 8, U.S.C. § 1324(a) defines several distinct offenses related to aliens. Subsection 1324(a)(1)(i)-(v) prohibits alien smuggling, domestic transportation of unauthorized aliens, concealing or harboring unauthorized aliens, encouraging or inducing unauthorized aliens to enter the United States, and engaging in a conspiracy or aiding and abetting any of the preceding acts. Subsection 1324(a)(2) prohibits bringing or attempting to bring unauthorized aliens to the United States in any manner whatsoever, even at a designated port of entry. Subsection 1324(a)(3).
Unlawful Harboring of Criminal Aliens
Harboring — Subsection 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) makes it an offense for any person who — knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation.
Penalties — … With regard to violations of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(ii)-(iv) and (v)(ii), domestic transportation, harboring, encouraging/inducing, or aiding/abetting, the basic statutory maximum term of imprisonment is 5 years…
Therefore, the law enforcement and city administrators of any municipality acting as a sanctuary city are in violation of federal law, subject to criminal prosecution and imprisonment of up to five years.
Texas law specifically targets sanctuary cities that do not report aliens detained for local offenses against persons or property. SB4 is not a broad sweep of all illegal aliens, just those DETAINED by local authorities who refuse to transmit arrest reports to ICE.
SB4 becomes effective on September 1, 2017.