“Anti-sanctuary cities” Bill passes through Texas Senate


The Senate Committee on State Affairs hears SB 4

Opposing views on what kind of policies generate public safety were debated during a hearing on Texas Senate Bill 4 Feb. 2, which calls upon Texas law enforcement to comply with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement detainers.

Following a 16-hour-long hearing, the Senate Committee on State Affairs voted to have the bill sent to the full Senate for a vote.

SB4 has commonly been referred to as “anti-sanctuary cities” legislation since it also aims to eliminate state grants to local governments that instruct law enforcement to not ask about one’s immigration status or that fail to comply with federal immigration detainers.

A.J. Louderback is one of the few that gave a testimony in support of the bill, speaking for the Sheriff’s Association of Texas.

“Two-hundred fifty-three sheriffs believe you don’t take an oath to protect a political opinion,” said Louderback. “It’s vitally important for the community to know it’s not optional to ignore ICE detainers.”

Sen. José Menéndez said that the bill could lead to profiling, comparing SB 4 to similar legislation that passed in Arizona in 2010.

“The folks who are worried and scared and concerned about this aren’t necessarily the criminals,” Menendez said. “They’re law abiding citizens who feel that maybe the way they look or the way they sound or what they drive, that they’re going to become targets of this bill.”

Sen. Charles Perry did not think this would be an issue since everyone has a “digital footprint,” which allows most local law enforcement agencies to identify them as a citizen if need be.

Another proponent of the bill, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman criticized the “false narrative” surrounding SB 4.

“The rumor or theory that you can be stopped for a broken taillight and wind up being deported is simply a fallacy,” Hickman said. Directly addressing those opposed to the bill, he continued, “If you want your immigrant communities to feel safe and secure, the messaging and information needs to be accurate and fairly disseminated so that we don’t create unwanted fear in our immigrant communities.”

The statewide coordinator for the United We Dream campaign, Karla Perez, was in attendance.

“[SB 4] is dangerous to me as an undocumented student, but also to you as a citizen,” Perez said.

The chambers were filled to capacity, and a line of people waited just outside the doors for a chance to be let in, while others flowed into viewing rooms. The majority was against SB 4, and fearful responses reverberated throughout Austin following its passage.

Ben Salinas is married to a Colombian-American citizen.

“The sanctuary cities bill is going to erode trust between the community and local law enforcement,” he said.

Rumors of an immigration checkpoint at Lamar and Rundberg street circulated via text and social media, as well as speculation of raids by ICE in north Austin and Montropolis street.

Austin City Council member Gregorio Casar shared “know your rights” materials on Facebook.

“Regardless of whether or not the raids are occurring this week, we believe such assaults on our community are imminent given the anti-immigrant hate of our federal administration,” Casar said.