Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Republican Governor Greg Abbott is calling for a “sanctuary cities” law in Texas in his most public support of the divisive immigration issue since taking office.

Abbott said Monday the state must prohibit policies that “promote sanctuary to people in this state illegally.” The governor’s spokesman, John Wittman, confirmed Abbott wants the Republican-controlled Legislature to take up the issue in 2017.

In a letter to Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Abbott said, in part,

“‘Sanctuary City’ policies like those promoted by your recent decision to implement your own case-by-case immigrant detention plan will no longer be tolerated in Texas. Your decision to not fully honor ICE’s requests to detain criminal immigrants poses a serious danger to Texans. These detainers provide ICE with the critical notice and time it needs to take incarcerated immigrants into federal custody.”

The governor wrote the letter with the purpose of reversing what he calls Valdez’s ‘unilaterally enacted policy’ of refusing to automatically detain all criminal immigrants. Abbott says the policy, pursuant to the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s federal detainer program, is made to prevent potentially dangerous criminals from entering communities.

Abbott emphasized that Valdez’s choice to not fully honor ICE’s request creates a danger for Texans. He further claimed the detainers provide the organization with notice time needed to take incarcerated immigrants into federal custody.

The term “sanctuary cities” has no legal meaning and is typically used to describe local governments that ban police from asking about a person’s immigration status.

Abbott’s stance is unsurprising. But he has mostly ducked taking a clear position on the issue that roils Democrats and is opposed by sheriffs in some of Texas’ largest counties. Republicans have proposed “sanctuary cities” laws since 2011 but have repeatedly failed despite an overwhelming conservative majority.

Abbott said, “Now more than ever, it is essential that state, federal, and local law enforcement work collaboratively to protect our fellow Texans and to ensure that our laws are upheld, not disregarded.”

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)