Texas Immigration Bill Draws Protesters to the State Capitol

AUSTIN, Tex. — About two dozen demonstrators held a daylong sit-in at a state building on the grounds of the Texas Capitol on Monday to oppose legislation that would ban so-called sanctuary jurisdictions in Texas.

The protesters called for Gov. Greg Abbott to veto the bill, which would require police chiefs and sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration officials or face jail time and fines.

The protesters and their supporters filled the lobby of the State Insurance Building here, an annex of the governor’s office, singing and clapping and chanting, “Stand up, fight back!” Many wore white T-shirts reading “S.B. 4,” for Senate Bill 4, with a slash drawn through it. State troopers stood quietly nearby.

About an hour into the protest, participants sat down and blocked the two lobby entrances, defying a police request.

“It’s important for us to block both doors to show the governor we’re not afraid,” said Greg Casar, an Austin city councilman who is the son of Mexican immigrants and led the protest.

The sit-in came to an end more than nine hours after it started when state troopers formally arrested the 22 protesters after the close of the workday, placed them in handcuffs and called in a magistrate to arraign them on charges of criminal trespass, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

The bill has emerged as one of the most contentious issues for the Texas Legislature, stirring marathon debates among lawmakers at packed overnight hearings. It passed both the House and the Senate, but in different forms, and Republican leaders in both chambers are sorting out how to proceed before sending it to the governor’s desk.

By Dave Montogomery and Manny Fernandez for The New York Times
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