February 21, 2017
As a country, we have the right to define and defend our border. I do not support open borders as we would cease to be a nation. However, Senate Bill 4, the so-called "sanctuary cities" bill, is an overreach and goes too far. It threatens to disrupt the lives of all our citizens, not only those who are undocumented. It authorizes agreements between federal Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) and local law enforcement to enter agreements where enforcement of immigration laws can be delegated to local authorities.
If an undocumented person commits a crime in our country and is arrested and jailed, that person should be detained and INS notified. Or, if there is a detainer by INS, that detainer should be honored. That person should not be released back into our community. We do not want any person who commits a crime and is a danger to our families, to be set free.
However, there are many undocumented persons who have committed no crimes and live peacefully among our communities. There is no doubt our immigration laws are broken. But part of the problem is the federal government who issues contradictory policies -- while conducting raids to deport undocumented persons, they simultaneously allow those who enter our country illegally to stay by providing them a "notice to appear" that allows them to travel throughout our country. The federal government now is trying to conduct raids to catch and find the very people that they released.
SB 4 is forcing our local law enforcement agents to enforce federal immigration laws without proper training and takes away from their public safety responsibilities for our communities. There will inevitably be bad actors who will overreach and abuse this new power given to them. Officers have testified they are confused about their enforcement authority and lack of training. Law enforcement is also deeply concerned that SB 4 will undermine the level of trust and cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo delivered this message clearly as he testified to the Legislature against SB 4, "Such a divide between local police and immigrant groups would result in increased crime against immigrants and in the broader community, create a class of silent victims, and eliminate the potential for assistance from immigrants in solving crimes or preventing crimes."
The irony of SB 4 is that Texas does not want the federal government to interfere with our state rights, but now we want our local law enforcement to act like the federal government and interfere with our local communities. While supporters of SB 4 continue to state their support of law enforcement and that they will always "back the blue," they simultaneously ignore the comments and strong opposition by law enforcement to this legislation and the dangers it will create for our communities and our families.