AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A tough Texas bill cracking down on local police who refuse to help enforce federal immigration law has cleared a key legislative hurdle toward becoming law.

A House committee voted 7-5 without debate Wednesday to approve a softened version of the anti-"sanctuary cities" bill approved by the state Senate in February. That allows for a House floor vote soon.

House Republicans eased the Senate bill, though only slightly. The changes include allowing police officers to only inquire about immigration status if someone is arrested, rather than simply being detained.

Local governments are also no longer threatened with losing all state grant funding.

But the House version still calls for possible jail time for sheriffs not complying with federal immigration enforcement.

Outnumbered Texas Democrats say the measure encourages intimidation and discrimination.


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