The Texas State Senate has confronted one of the GOP's priority issues by passing a bill designed to make it easier for law officers to corral illegal immigrants.

Gov. Rick Perry declared the so-called "sanctuary cities" bill an emergency issue earlier this year, but Senate Democrats managed to block the legislation in the regular session.  The governor then put the issue on the agenda for the special session.

Senate Bill 9 would deny state funds to entities that prohibit peace officers and employees of special districts from inquiring into the status of a person arrested or detained for the investigation of crime.

Senate Democrats say this is the "largest assault against Latinos" in recent decades.  They say it will result in racial profiling and make it less likely for immigrants to report crime -- because it allows police to question all witnesses in the course of an investigation.

Police chiefs in all the state’s largest cities are against this bill.

Republican Senator Steve Ogden of Bryan says the bill doesn't do any of the things opponents say it will do, and most of their criticisms don’t make sense.

Houston Republican Dan Patrick says the federal government has abdicated its responsibility to control its borders, and not passing this bill, Patrick says, "would be to throw up our hands and do nothing."

via Texas Senate OKs cops asking for immigration status | Houston & Texas News | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle.

The Senate vote was along party lines.  All 19 Republicans voted for it, and all 12 Democrats voted against it.  The bill now goes to the House, where Republicans hold a large majority.