The Texas Senate is voting on SB4, a controversial bill involving local control and immigration. Indivisible Austin has a thorough description of the bill available.
The State Affairs Committee held a public hearing on February 2, 2017 which where more than 500 people signed up to testify. Only 11 witnesses spoke in support of the bill. Despite the 16 hours of testimonies against, the Committee voted along party lines to advance the bill.
This project seeks to collect statements from public officials, lawyers, community organizers and law enforcement regarding SB4.
If this bill's intent is to make our communities safer, I submit to you that it will do just the opposite. With the absence of these programs, and others, El Paso, which has become the safest city in the United States for at least the past five years, will not only lose that designation, but will likely become more insecure. This is not good for my community or the State of Texas.
As an organization, we do not oppose reasonable legislation enacted to provide for the safety and security of our county. However, we do not believe that SB4 provides for either.
Texas depends on immigrants for its economic vitality, from those who pick crops to those who create technology and jobs. Following the President's lead, some Texas politicians are attacking the people and policies that have helped Texas diversify its economy and enrich its culture. We reject these policies of fear.
I am adamantly opposed to SB4 and stand strong with our immigrant community. Always have, always will.
Senate Bill 4 is a dangerous bill that targets Texas families and students, while wasting valuable time and resources of local law enforcement. Just like Texas does not want the Federal Government telling the Department of Public Safety what to do, we shouldn't be micromanaging our local police departments. We need to let police departments do their jobs and protect their community - not enforce immigration.
The states waiver of governmental immunity for counties and municipalities is very alarming. The committee substitute for Senate Bill 4 waives immunities for counties and cities if they release a person under certain conditions. This waiver of immunity will cause potential liability even for inadvertent or negligent actions if the person is the subject of a federal detainer.
Ultimately, the proposed bill would negatively effect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities.
At a time of strained law enforcement budgets, critically low jail and prison bed space, a focus on violent criminals, human traffickers, gun traffickers, sex traffickers, and members of organized crime syndicates is critical. Requiring local law enforcement to prioritize immigration efforts, without adequate funding or increased support from involved governmental agencies, will eventually erode trust and ultimately lead to increased insecurity and diminished public safety.
As currently drafted, I am concerned that Senate Bill 4 could limit our ability to address a myriad of local safety priorities – such as rape, murder and human trafficking to elder abuse and the challenges of mental health in our criminal justice system. I am also concerned about the risk of an unintended consequence: creating a climate of fear and suspicion that could damage our efforts to reinforce trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve.
Many, many, many people will be less likely to speak to the police out of fear of deportation... As written, Senate Bill 4 would retract from local law enforcement's effectiveness.
SB 4 will force many immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, into the shadows out of fear of being unfairly targeted simply because of the color of their skin
The immigrants many times have no one to speak on their behalf
Following State law will undoubtedly ensure new costly litigation and monetary damages for El Paso County in a breach of contract claim for violating the terms of the settlement agreement. State law will not simply override the settlement agreement.
We risk further endangering vulnerable women and children who fall prey to exploitation and extortion from human traffickers, violent gangs, unscrupulous businesses, and racist injustices.
McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said they don’t have the time or the resources for immigration enforcement.
And when counties and cities get sued for racial profiling, which is sure to happen when you force local law enforcement (good people who have not received the same training as Border Patrol officers) to become de facto immigration agents, who pays that bill for those settlements and/or judgments? Local property taxpayers have to pick up the tab as well.
This bill could undo the trust that has been built over the years.
Immigration law is complex. Officers have no training on immigration law, and it would detract from our primary mission