‘Sanctuary cities’ bill is now the law in Texas

The Magnet Tribune: Facebook screen shot
Governor Greg Abbott signs Senate Bill 4 on Facebook Live on Sunday, May 8.

Irene Alegria, Staff Writer

Governor Gregg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 on Facebook Live on Sunday, May 8.  Also known as the “sanctuary cities” bill, it will take effect on the first of September of this year.

State Senator Charles Perry introduced Senate Bill 4 on Jan. 23 in the Legislature, which would amend current law relating to the enforcement of state and federal laws of governing immigration by certain governmental entities.

The questioning of immigration status does not apply to victims, witnesses of a crime, and also those who reported the crime. Police officers are not able to ask someone for their immigration status when detained, according to the bill.

Perry told the Texas Tribune online newspaper that even if a person is in the country illegally, he or she would not have a reason to fear his legislation if they didn’t commit crimes.

Texas law enforcement agency personnel are expected to comply with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement requests to turn people over to the agency as knowingly failing to complying with an immigration detainer request is a Class A misdemeanor.

“The bill would also punish local governments if their law enforcement agencies fail to honor request, known as detainees, from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement in violation would be stripped of state grant funding and also be subject to civil fines,” the Texas Tribune story stated.

Bill 4 was listed as one of Governor Greg Abbott’s emergency items; therefore, law makers voted on it before the standard 60-day waiting period.

Those who oppose the law worry that police will make unnecessary stops in order to catch immigrants and get them deported, reporter Sanya Mansoor wrote in the Texas Tribune.

A state senator discussed possible difficulties with the legislation.

“When people go from a broken taillight to a broken family to broken trust in the system, that is real,” said Houston Democratic Senator Sylvia Garcia during the debate in February.

A student offered her opinion of the bill.

“The bill benefits people that would otherwise not be protected by law,” said Angie Bravo, a sophomore communications student at VMT. “People who are afraid to speak of their status in the country would typically just not speak of it, but with the bill, they would have no need to fear.”

This bill will also apply to college campuses. Police at colleges and universities are also required to cooperate with the immigration law.

“Now more than ever immigrants are being singled out, in some instances targeted, for being in this country even when they are simply trying to provide for their family,” stated Jasmine Cantu, a sophomore theater student at VMT. “Immigrants are all generalized into one group assuming one thing. They are “dangerous”. It’s really disappointing because some of them are really trying to make a good life for themselves and their families.”

Acting Laredo Police Chief Gabriel E. Martinez Jr. said the community should not be afraid of calling police out of fear of deportation.

Since the bill was signed May 8, lawyers have filed lawsuits, including one by the city of El Cenizo in south Webb County.

The Magnet Tribune has contacted Perry and State Senator Judith Zaffirini for comment on the bill but has not yet gotten a response.