Texas Governor Greg Abbott beat protesters to the punch, signing into law a bill that bans sanctuary cities in the state of Texas and holds lawmakers accountable for failing to uphold existing federal laws. The governor made the the unprecedented move of signing the bill on Facebook Live, reaching over one million followers on his Facebook page.
Governor Abbott joined Glenn on radio to talk about how the bill works, why its a good move for Texas and what defines a sanctuary city.
Enjoy the complimentary clip or read the transcript for details.
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This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Greg Abbott last night went on Facebook and signed a new bill into law, stopping sanctuary cities. Well, some say the problem is Texas doesn’t have any real self-declared sanctuary cities. And how dare him do this on Facebook. What a coward. Or a genius. You decide. Greg Abbott, the governor of the great state of Texas, joins us right now.
GLENN: Welcome program, Governor Greg Abbott. I think the best governor in the entire United States. Welcome, sir, how are you?
GREG: Glenn, I’m doing great. Great to visit with you again.
GLENN: Great to have you on.
So last night, you go on Facebook and you signed a bill — this is the first time I think anybody has ever done this on Facebook.
Why did you choose Facebook to do this? Why did you do it last night?
GREG: It won’t — it won’t be the last time either.
Listen, this is the 21st century. We’ve seen an evolution with regard to digital media, with regard to the way that elected officials are communicating directly with their constituents. We saw it first with what Barack Obama did with digital media. We saw what happened in the Trump campaign. And now this is the next step. But listen, I have more than a million viewers. And it’s important that I be able to connect directly with them unfiltered through other media. Obviously, other media across the entire country has picked this up and spread the story, which we are proud that they did. But you can expect, going forward, there will be many more ways in which we are communicating directly with the people who are citizens, the people that I have to answer to every single day.
GLENN: I have to tell you, Governor, I’d love to spend some more time talking to you about that. I think that is great. I know that we are living — and everybody knows. We’re living in a time now where you don’t need a middleman anymore. And it will change things. And I’d love to talk about the ramifications of that, if we have more time. But let me go to what you signed.
Texas doesn’t have any self-declared sanctuary city. And the Trump administration is having a hard time defining what a sanctuary city is. So what did you sign in last night?
GREG: Well, first let’s talk about terminology. And if you don’t mind, let me correct you a tiny bit.
GREG: A synonym of a sanctuary city is an outlaw city. It’s a city or county that refuses to follow the law. And in the state of Texas, it is my opinion, that we do have a self-declared sanctuary city. In Travis County — for your listeners, Travis County is the county in which Austin, Texas, is located. And the sheriff of Travis County has a written policy that is tangible for anybody to put their hands on, that says that Travis County is not going to comply with ICE detainer requests. In fact, the Travis County policy is such that if a person who is in the United States illegally and has either committed or been accused of a very violent crime, such as sexual assault — sexual assault of a minor. Armed robbery. Working in conspiracy with the drug cartels. Any of those crimes and far more, the sheriff of Travis County, who is responsible for upholding the law and keeping our citizens safe, is going to release them, even if the federal government has a request to hold them for the federal government to come and take them. That, I think, is the quintessential definition of a sanctuary city. Travis County is the target and subject of this law that I signed last night.
GLENN: Okay. So now what happens to Sheriff Hernandez? What happens to — I mean, Dallas is also a city that kind of plays games with — with sanctuary. What happens to these — these counties, these cities?
GREG: The new Texas law imposes very serious penalties. One is going to be fines that can add up to $25,000 per day. Two is that these officials — let’s say in this case, the Travis County sheriff, can be subject to forced removal from office, by the Texas attorney general. Three is, these officials can be subject to jail time, if they have sanctuary city policies or if they refuse to comply with the ICE detainer request.
GLENN: Excuse me my ignorance on this. But — I remember hearing this a long time ago, and it may be complete bunk, that the sheriff is the only one that actually answers directly to the people. Police officers, police commissioners, et cetera, et cetera, don’t, but that this is a — this is a separate office that doesn’t really answer to any chain of command. Is that true or not?
GREG: Correct in this regard, in that police officers are not elected by the people. Sheriffs are elected by. The people. That said, sheriffs are one of the county officials who have to work in conjunction with county governance, which in the state of Texas, the leader of the county government is called the county judge, and then there’s a county commissioner’s court that the sheriff must work with. It’s the county commissioner’s court that sets the budget for the sheriff.
GLENN: How do you respond to people who are saying this is going to terrorize the Latino community?
GREG: Well, first, let’s be clear about something. And that is that just because someone is here illegally doesn’t at all mean that they are Hispanic. Remember this, Glenn, and that is more than half of the people who have been coming across our border illegally this past year are not from Mexico. They’re coming in from across the entire world. So that part of the thesis is wrong. Second is that Texas is an open and welcoming state. In fact, even before Texas was Texas, we’ve been a blend of Anglo and Hispanic culture. And, as you know, my wife is the first Hispanic first lady. And so we’re very supportive and open to immigration. People get this wrong in the terminology. They say that laws like this are anti-immigrant. That’s absolutely not true. We’re very pro-immigration. The only people who are subject to — to being apprehended under this new law are people who are here illegally, who have committed a crime that ICE has caused them to put on their detainer list. If you are here and you’ve committed no crime whatsoever, you’re never even going to be subject to this because ICE will not have you on their detainer list.
GLENN: So, Governor, here’s one thing that I can’t solve in my head. And I know you’re a compassionate man. And I know this has had to cross your mind. There are those people who are here illegally who then — who are good, decent people and whatever their situation is — yada, yada. But somehow or another, a bad guy gets into their life and is abusing them. Beating them. Raping them. Whatever. And if they fear that they are going to be, you know, sent back home and something is going to happen to them or they just don’t want to be on anybody’s radar because they’re pretty invisible, they won’t say anything about that. And crime could go through — really horrible kinds of crime could go through the roof in those communities. How do you solve that? And do you believe that’s true?
GREG: We solve that in this law because we put specific exceptions in this law. If you are a victim of a crime, if you are a witness to a crime, you will not be asked about your immigration status, if you report that crime. We wanted to make sure that those people be accepted from those provisions.
GLENN: Now, they’re calling this the papers please bill. But that’s not what this — you don’t ask for papers if somebody is on a routine stop, right? I mean —
GREG: You’re absolutely correct. Let me be very clear about this. Because a lot of critics misconstrue this as being the Arizona law. And the Arizona law that was reviewed by the United States Supreme Court, they specifically, quote, required law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status. First, I will tell you that part of the law was upheld by the United States Supreme Court, even the liberals on the United States Supreme Court.
GREG: The Texas law does not make that requirement. What the Texas law does, is it allows, but does not require law enforcement to ask about immigration status. Let me explain to you why. And that is, when a police officer pulls over somebody — let’s say in a car — and they do it for you’re driving too fast. You know, whatever the violation may be. Let’s say they walk up to the car and they look into the car and the person in the car has tattoos on them that clearly indicates they are a member of MS-13 — which, by the way, is growing in number in the state of Texas — it would be right for the police officer to ask that MS-13 member, “Are you here in the United States legally?” And so it allows them in situations where this person could be the subject of an ICE detainer request, which an MS-13 gang member most likely would be, to make that inquiry. But it simply and absolutely does not require law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status. Anybody who says otherwise either doesn’t know the law or they’re misrepresenting the law.
GLENN: Governor, what do you think about the progress that — and I don’t want to get this into a Trump thing. About the progress of illegal immigration and the border wall, et cetera, et cetera, with this administration. Without — because I don’t want to put you in the middle of something here. Are we moving — are we moving the way we should be, or have we surrendered this?
GREG: Well, we’ve had a problem for decades now, with regard to the legal immigration process. We have a completely flawed immigration system that must be fixed, and nothing has been done in the last few administrations, and nothing has yet been done under the current administration to fix our immigration process.
Let’s be clear about this: Texas, and I think America, strongly supports a robust legal immigration system. What must be done is, we must implement reforms that overhaul our legal immigration system and couple that with strict enforcement against illegal immigration.
GLENN: I said a few years ago, that what President Obama was doing was sending a message all around the world, come in. We’re not going to enforce our own laws. And if I lived across the border in poverty, in a drug-ridden — if I lived in a place where I knew my kids had no future and the president of the United States was saying, we’re not going to enforce this, and if you get here, you’re going to be here forever. I would absolutely take my kids across this border, for the promise of America. And I said at the time, it’s — it’s — a lot of this is our fault because we’re telling them we don’t care about this law. And if you’re — and if you are in their situation, you’re going to roll the dice for a piece of this. Is it true —
GREG: Right. Barack Obama’s approach to border security was the ole system (phonetic). Such as the matador saying “ole” to the bull charging at them, and just let them on through.
GREG: But remember this, Glenn, and that is, why is it that so many people want to come to America as opposed to let’s say Venezuela or some other place? The reason is because the United States of America more than any other country in the entire world is a nation of laws.
GREG: And it is imperative that we as a people continue to ensure that America remains a nation of laws so that we will be the aspiration for people around the entire globe.
GLENN: Has our immigration here in Texas — our illegal immigration, have you seen a decline in it?
GREG: There actually has been a decline.
GLENN: Small or significant?
GREG: During this calendar year, a very meaningful decline during this calendar year, where people who were coming across the border illegally has shrunk dramatically.
In this last calendar year, before the one we’re in right now, there were more — or about 1,000 people crossing the border a day. And now that has shrunk dramatically compared to where it was before. But we’ll need to see. Because as most people known, the increase in cross-border activity typically increases during the May, June, and July months.
GLENN: Have we moved our border agents closer to the border since Obama? I mean, there was this huge gap for a long time.
GREG: You’re exactly right. If you’re going to secure the border, the best place to secure the border is at the border.
GREG: One of the policies of the Obama administration was to remove more into the interior, the border security operations, so that people will have already crossed the border. It simply made no sense whatsoever. And so, yes, one of the changes is to move border security closer to the border. Another is to increase and enhance border security efforts. But that is something that the state of Texas is also doing. We’re about to close out our new budget during the coming weeks. We continue to add more money from the state of Texas to secure the border because it is important that we be a state as well as a nation of laws. We welcome people here who want to immigrate to the United States legally. But we want to make sure that if there’s anybody who is not following the law, the law will be enforced.
GLENN: I would love to have you back — we’re running out of time. I would love to have you back and talk a little bit about the culture of Texas and how — if we’re doing anything to protect the culture of Texas. It’s one of the only states left that has — or almost — I can almost say had a unique culture. And it’s — it’s really being destroyed. And I’m — I’m — and not intentionally or anything like that. Just because this massive influx from people all over the world and the country who were creating jobs here. And what we’re doing to protect that. But let me leave you with just this one question here. Have we signed now officially to the Convention of States?
GREG: Yes. As of last week, Texas became the 11th state to sign on to the Convention of States. And Texas will be in the vanguard of leading that effort. Now that Texas passed it, I think many more states will come behind us. This is a common sense opportunity to return power to the people, away from the entrenched forces in Washington, DC.
GLENN: I — I have to tell you, I think you are the best governor in the country right now. That’s pretty easy to say. But the best governor I think I have ever lived under, and big supporters.
Greg Abbott, thank you so much, sir.
GREG: Thank you, Glenn. God bless.
GLENN: You bet.
Great, great leader. As you heard, very well reasoned. Doesn’t get into hyperbole or name-calling. He just does it. Love him.