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Lt. Governor Blasts Dallas County Resolution Welcoming Undocumented Immigrants

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DALLAS (CBS11) - Lt. Governor Dan Patrick blasted Dallas County Commissioners one day after they approved a controversial ruling that welcomes undocumented immigrants.

The Commissioners Court voted for the non-binding "Welcome Communities" resolution 4-1 along party lines.

In an interview via Skype, the Lt. Governor said, "What is it that they don't get about following the law and the will of the people who do not want sanctuary cities in our country and most importantly in our state."

The resolution calls immigrants and refugees, both documented and undocumented "integral members of our community."

It also says, "providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would be a benefit to the United States."

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat, says the resolution is non-binding and is meant to make those here illegally feel comfortable enough to call police if they are crime victims. "It's important that we don't play politics and blow these things out of proportion because although it may play well to the political bases to do that, it creates a lot of confusion in those communities and makes those communities less safe."

Another provision in the resolution "calls on local law enforcement agencies to end nonessential collaborations with Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

Judge Jenkins says one example of that is when those who are here illegally become crime victims, they won't be asked about the immigration status when they call police for help.

On Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, weighed in by issuing a statement:

"I rarely ever second guess or comment on decisions made by local officials but I feel that this unwise resolution puts our families and our community in direct harm and demands our immediate attention. It is completely irresponsible to pick and choose which laws to follow especially when it comes to turning a blind eye to the actions of criminal illegal aliens. I refuse to stand idly by and let this misguided, lawless resolution undermine our nation's laws and endanger our families."

Dallas County's jail continues to work with ICE to detain inmates who may be here illegally.

A Dallas County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman said Wednesday that policy won't change.

But the Lt. Governor says the resolution acts as a magnet and will make it tougher to end illegal immigration. "You don't just say we're just going to poke a finger in the eye of the President, the Governor, the Lt. Governor, the Texas Legislature, and the people of Texas."

Judge Jenkins replied, "Certainly, there's no part on anyone to be less than respectful to any other person. The whole point of the resolution is we are a welcoming community that welcomes different people and different viewpoints."

CBS11 interviewed the Lt. Governor minutes after Senate Bill 4 passed in the Texas Senate which would ban sanctuary cities and universities in the Lone Star State.

It requires local law enforcement and universities to work with federal immigration officials.

Patrick rejects concerns by Democrats who call it a deportation bill. "Senate Bill 4 is about law and order. It's about being sure local officials follow federal law. It's really that simple."

But Judge Jenkins repeated concerns by Democrats in the Texas Senate who said there's a genuine fear in the Latino community that they won't be able to call police and firefighters when they need help. "I haven't heard anyone in law enforcement, healthcare, the community at large or the business community tell me Senate Bill 4 makes us more safe. I've only heard that it will hurt local law enforcement. It will make witnesses and victims less likely to come forward."

Patrick says the bill will make people safer because those here illegally who are sitting in jail will be detained instead of being released back on the streets where they may commit more crimes.

The Lt. Governor says he believes the Texas House will ultimately pass the bill and send it to Governor Greg Abbott to sign it into law.

During his State of the State speech last week, the Governor called banning sanctuary cities one of his four emergency items.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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