What to know as Texas nears passing 'sanctuary city' law

Rep. Charlie Geren R Fort Worth spoke about Senate Bill 4 on the House floor last Wednesday. 

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas is ready to sign a bill that would ban so-called "sanctuary cities" in his state.

Opponents of the bill, including the Texas Major Cities Police Chiefs Association and the Texas Police Chief's Association, have argued that it will have an adverse effect on public safety, and embed mistrust in the state's immigrant communities.

Bill supporters said sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with the nation's immigration laws enable immigrants to commit crimes before they're deported.

Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, predicted that the harsh sanctuary bill will ultimately backfire, as it did in California, where anti-immigrant ballot measures passed in the 1990s led to a "political awakening" for Latinos.

That's a much lower standard than the previous House language, which said officers could ask about immigration status only of someone they had arrested.

Under SB 4, a sheriff, police chief, constable, or jailer who has custody of a person subject to a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer request and who knowingly fails to comply with the detainer request could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

Now, Texas law enforcement is anxious about that effect getting worse in the state's big cities, where fear is already impacting policing.

Texas has the second-largest number of illegal immigrants in the country - 1.6 million - and shares the longest portion of the USA border with Mexico, 1,254 of the total 1,969 miles.

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According to the bill's text, sheriffs and police chiefs could face jail time if they don't work with federal authorities.

Salazar said he is anxious about the further division the bill would create between undocumented immigrants and his deputies.

The police chiefs of Texas' five biggest cities, which includes Dallas and Houston, oppose the bill from the start. Instead, a panel of House lawmakers considered HB 2899, but they have yet to vote on the measure since an April 20 hearing. They say it could affect police-community relationships and break apart families.

"In the same way that the Arizona legislation removed local authority, local control, local decision-making from how there was cooperation with ICE, SB 4 accomplishes the same objective", she said. "Local law enforcement should not be mandated to enforce federal immigration laws".

Last week, the Texas House, along party lines, approved sanctuary legislation that will make Texas communities less safe, increase the potential for racial profiling, burden already taxed local law enforcement with immigration duties, and sow fear in an already fearful community of mostly hard-working people. SB 4 is virtually certain to result in a costly lawsuit for El Paso County, which must choose between a federal settlement agreement and compliance with this new state law.

"There are some officials in the state of Texas, as well as across the United States, who simply do not want to apply the rule of law in their jurisdiction, who want to promote lawlessness". "What do I use to determine who I'm going to ask for papers?"

Abbott then tweeted: "I'm getting my signing pen warmed up".

Robinson said there is already a process at the Midland County jail where each person brought in is asked about where they are born.



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