The so-called sanctuary cities bill that is being debated has many problems. First and foremost it is a solution in search of a problem – there are no “sanctuary cities” in Texas. But another problem with the bill is that the debate surrounding it morphs into a debate about illegal immigration. It’s a way for the far right GOP and the racists in their party to slip into a discussion about illegal immigration, using a purported law enforcement issue.
What’s usually discussed in the articles and debates surrounding this legislation are those who are against it. As the AAS described yesterday those who oppose the bill are police, priests and protesters.
On Monday, opponents of SB 1 outnumbered supporters at the committee hearing.
During a break in the action, Sen Kirk Watson, D-Austin, criticized the bill as he stood before a cheering gathering of police, priests and protesters. He said the measure did not include the perspectives of law enforcement agencies, businesses and advocates that have problems with the bill.
“This bill is anti-Latino and anti-immigrant, whether or not it was intended to be,” Watson said.
Here’s more reporting on the bill from the Star-Telegram’s Dave Montgomery, Police agencies join Hispanic leaders in opposing ‘sanctuary cities’ bill.
The state’s largest law enforcement agencies joined forces with Hispanic leaders Monday in opposing a so-called sanctuary cities bill that supporters say is a needed tool against illegal immigration.
The emotion-charged bill, which Gov. Rick Rick Perry has designated as a top priority, would let law officers ask about immigration status when they arrest or detain someone.
“It’s going to bring a huge burden to our system,” said Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who told senators that the added requirement would cost her department $1.5 million a year.
The committee also received a letter signed by Police Chiefs Jeff Halstead of Fort Worth, Willam P. McManus of San Antonio, Gregory K. Allen of El Paso and Art Acevedo of Austin warning of the potential “negative effects” if the bill becomes law.
“Violent and property crime, quality of life in our communities, and answering calls for service are our primary responsibility — not enforcing Federal immigration laws,” the chiefs wrote.
Houston Police Chief Charles A. McClelland, who heads the nation’s fifth-largest police agency, told the committee that empowering law officers to question people about their immigration status would make residents of Hispanic communities reluctant to help police investigate crimes.
“We have built up a trust, and that trust is like money in a bank account,” McClelland said. “We’re afraid that support and that information will actually dry up” if the bill becomes law.
Also against this bill are Democrats, corporate and business interests, and moderate/less/non-racist Republicans. It’s another unfunded mandate, putting a burden on local communities, passed down from elected Republicans. And it does nothing to solve, or fix, the issue of illegal immigration. So what possibly could be the reason for this bill being pushed, and it’s likely passage, despite only a narrow support?
The answer lies in who shows up to vote, not just in November of an election year, but in March too. As the voter pool shrinks, because of new voter ID laws, voter apathy, a narrower and narrower minority of Texans are choosing who gets elected in our state. That, in turn, allows for a narrow segment of our population to pass unpopular legislation without fear of retribution on election day.
Laws like this will continue to get passed until people who oppose them show up on election day and vote for people that oppose laws like this.
Letter to GOP Sen. Tommy Williams from Texas chief’s of police opposed to sanctuary cities bill.