Emoji that! Gov. Abbott signs ban on sanctuary cities in solitary Sunday evening Facebook Live ceremony.



Good morning Austin:

I was at Barton Springs Pool late yesterday afternoon, lying in the warm sun and making good progress on the Sunday Times crossword puzzle when, at 6:02 p.m., I received a text from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office advising me to tune into the governor’s Facebook page a little before 6:30.

Hmmm. OK.

I took a quick dip and then headed for my car and, sitting in my wet bathing suit, went on my laptop a minute or two before 6:30 to Gov. Abbott’s Facebook page. Nothing there yet.

I refreshed a couple of times on both my laptop and my iPhone until it popped up.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the Facebook Live to play on either of my devices. It just kept cycling – the same thing that happened to me when Beto O’Rourke announced for the U.S. Senate from El Paso, on Facebook Live – and I damned the fact that I lived in an age when there wasn’t a reliable way to communicate live.

What a pity.

Fortunately, Sean Collins Walsh, who is far younger than I am and apparently has a stronger Facebook Live vibe, was covering the story for the Statesman and got it done.

Why did the governor decide to make the announcement on a Sunday evening in his office with no one else present on Facebook Live with so little advance notice?

From Sean’s story:

Abbott’s office gave little advance warning of the highly anticipated signing, which ensured that protesters could not disrupt it.

The five-minute Facebook Live video had been viewed tens of thousands of times as of Sunday evening.

“We’re going to where most people are getting their news nowadays and talking directly to them instead of speaking through a filter,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman said of the decision to use the social media live-streaming service.

But Jim Vertuno and Scott Braddock had a more Machiavellian explanation.

And yet, while the governor may have slipped the surly bonds of protesters and allies/rivals, he was unable to escape the relentless, in-his-face, on-his-face judgment of Facebook emojis.


Here is Governor’s Facebook Live of his solitary signing ceremony, followed by a blow-by-blow recitation including, in italics, the governor’s remarks, and  as-it-happened, emoji and commentary reaction from those Texans who somehow knew to check in on the governor’s Facebook page last night.

It got off to a slow start.




Hey Tony.


Hey Evan.

It was such a slow start that Juanita tried to conduct some personal business with the governor, and then the chatter turned to marijuana.

Oh wait, here we go.

Hi. I’m Gov. Greg Abbott and I’d like to welcome you to the Texas Governor’s office.

This is where I do things like meet with legislators.





It’s also where I host national and international leaders.

And also, where I either sign or veto laws.





Well, I want to thank you all this evening as I sign a law that will ban sanctuary cities in Texas.

Now, this law would not have made it to my desk without the leadership and help of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Speaker Joe Straus.

Thanks also to Sen. Charles Perry and Rep. Charlie Geren, who authored this in their chambers.

Now let’s be clear about this.

We all support legal immigration.

It helped to build America and Texas.

Texas continues to support the legal immigration that has been a part of our state from the very beginning.

But legal immigration is different than harboring people who have committed dangerous crimes.



Those policies are sanctuary city policies.

This law cracks down on policies like the Travis County sheriff who declared that she would not detain known criminals accused of violent crimes.

Those policies are sanctuary city policies and won’t be tolerated in Texas.

Elected officials and law enforcement agencies, they don’t get to pick and choose which laws they will obey.

There are consequences, deadly consequences to not enforcing the law.

Who can forget, Kate Steinle’s tragic murder two years ago, a murder that was blamed on sanctuary cities policies.

Kate’s killer was in the country illegally. He had been deported five times and had seven felony convictions and was on probation in Texas at the time he killed Kate Steinle.

He should never have been in this country.

If he hadn’t, Kate would still be alive today.

Kate’s death was more than a murder. It was gross negligence by government policy.

Texas will not be complicit in endangering our citizens the way Kate Steinle was endangered.


That’s because our priority is keeping our citizens safe.


The bill that I am about to sign, does just that.


It ensures that law enforcement officers in Texas can and will cooperate with ICE.

It also requires sheriffs to honor ICE detainer requests.

Now this law imposes penalties of up to $25,000 per day and it can lead to jail time and removal from office for any official who refuses to comply with the ban on sanctuary cities.

Now listen, the key policies in this bill have already been tested at the United States Supreme Court and approved there.

And it simply makes sense.

Citizens expect law enforcement officers to enforce the law.

And citizens expect law-breakers to face the consequences.

Texans expect us to keep them safe and that’s exactly what we are going to do by me signing this law.

Texas has now banned sanctuary cities in the Lone Star State.





Now, let’s be clear. The reason why so many people come to America is because we are a nation of laws and Texas is doing its part to keep it that way.

May God bless you all, and may God forever bless the great state of Texas.







Author: Jonathan Tilove

Jonathan Tilove is the Statesman's chief political writer. He was a Washington correspondent for the New Orleans Times-Picayune from 2008 to 2012. Before that he covered race and immigration issues for Newhouse News Service for 18 years.

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