Make Good on Promise to Push SB4 and Act Against “Sanctuary Cities”
“Juan Rios is a criminal alien who had been arrested in Texas multiple times and deported three times. Last September, he went on a crime spree across Texas, killing two people and kidnapping another. One of his innocent victims was Welton Betts. Welton loved God, his family and the Dallas Cowboys. After leaving a Cowboys game last year, he stopped at a Texaco station in Cedar Hill where he was gunned down by Juan Rios. Mr. Betts’ death is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy repeated too often in Texas.
“It is time for Texas to take a stand.” – Texas Governor Greg Abbott, 2017 State of State Address
AUSTIN- After Governor Greg Abbott delivered his State of the State address, it did not take long for him to fire a strong message across the bow of those who harbor in or have set sail for sanctuary cities in Texas.
Abbott has decided to withhold $1.5 million from Travis County’s law enforcement in an effort to penalize Austin’s “sanctuary city” status – and this appears to only be the beginning.
According to the governor, it is our burden as a state government to deal with the consequences of the federal government not securing the border.
The Line in the Sand
The fight over Senate Bill 4 is underway and sure to add fuel to an already charged fire on the subject of what to do about illegal immigration and border protection.
It took 16 hours of emotional testimony, but the Texas Senate’s State Affairs Committee voted to advance a bill that would punish local government entities and college campuses that refuse to cooperate with or enforce immigration laws.
SB4 will require all law enforcement in Texas honor U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) detainers. Those detainers are voluntary requests from ICE to hold people who have been arrested for 48 hours while ICE investigates their immigration status.
“As elected officials, it’s our responsibility to protect all Texans… Let’s be clear: We all support legal immigration; it’s what built America,” Abbott said in his address. “What must be stopped is illegal immigration—and worse, the criminals who conspire with cartels to enter the U.S. illegally.”
Sanctuary cities in general offer safety to undocumented migrants and often do not use municipal funds or resources to advance the enforcement of federal immigration laws. However, the term, “sanctuary city” is not an official designation.
State Senator John Whitmire, D-Houston, is not on board with the governors plan.
“I am adamantly opposed to the so-called sanctuary city legislation,” Whitmire said. “We must stand strong with our immigrant friends and neighbors. To do any less stands in the face of the values and foundation this great nation is built on.”
During his state of the state address to the 85th legislative session, Abbott outlined his emergency items and priorities for naming four emergency items in his address to lawmakers, including: banning sanctuary cities, reforming Child Protective Services, implementing meaningful ethics reforms and passing a resolution calling for a Convention of States.
In his speech, Abbott stated the case for the crackdown and tough stances on immigration and border protection and is determined to do something about it.
HOUSTON IN THE MIDDLE
Houston has not declared itself an official “sanctuary city”, but Mayor Sylvester Turner has made it clear that his city will be a “welcoming city” that treats all Houstonians with dignity and respect.
“I know there are a lot of families and children who are afraid and worried right now about what might happen to them. I want them to know that Houston is, and always has been, a welcoming city, where we value and appreciate diversity,” Turner said. “HPD is not the Immigration and Naturalization Service. We don’t profile, and we are not going to start profiling people to determine whether they are here illegally. It hasn’t happened under previous mayors, and it will not happen under my administration.”
Individual sheriffs and police chiefs — particularly those in heavily Democratic areas of the state — have long opposed enforcing federal immigration law.
In a letter to lawmakers, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo made it clear that his department will enforce laws that make the city safer and arrest anyone that threatens that safety , regardless of their immigration status. However, the chief added some notable observations and concerns about SB4.
“What I do not want my officers doing is inquiring about the immigration status of every person they come in contact with, or worse, only inquiring about the status of persons based on their appearance,” Acevedo said. “Senate Bill 4 will lead to just this kind of result, which will not be productive.”
According to Acevedo, the demands of law enforcement by SB4 will tax the already limited resources of the department taxing to limits the workload demands and shrinking budgets.
According to department statistics, HPD on average annually responds to 1.2 million calls for services and makes 400,000 traffic stops and actively investigates 150,000 crimes.
Acevedo stated that SB4 also prohibits policies that would allow law enforcement professionals from determining the best use of its limited manpower and impede efforts to make communities safer.
“We have a clear needed to foster trust and cooperation with everyone in our communities including immigrants, regardless of their immigration status…,” he said. “The proposed bill would negatively effect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities…”
Abbott said Texas can’t change federal immigration laws, but would not back down on enforcement.
“What Texas can do is to enforce existing law,” he said. “There are consequences—deadly consequences—to not enforcing the law.”
MORE SHOWDOWNS IMMINENT
Others supporting the changes call Abbott bold and courageous for doing something to send a message about protecting all Texans.
“I’m proud to see our Governor, Greg Abbott, place strong emphasis on protecting Texans by pressing for coordination with federal agencies to remove criminal aliens from our communities,” said Ron Hickman, Retired Harris County Sheriff. “Too often we have seen heinous crimes committed by criminal aliens who prey upon our fellow Texans. As a former Sheriff in Harris County, I saw examples of violent crimes committed by those who have demonstrated—by their own conduct—that they should not be allowed to live among us.”
At the same time, Abbott said Texas will not retreat and must continue our efforts to help secure the border.
Susan J. Kibbe, Executive Director, South Texans’ Property Rights Association agreed.
“The State’s continued action to increase the presence of the Department of Public Safety personnel along the Texas-Mexico border has appreciably improved the level of security experienced by private property owners in an area that extends north of the Border Patrol checkpoints,” Kibbe said. “Members of the South Texans’ Property Rights Association commend Governor Abbott and the state for their actions, which have resulted in better cooperation among the Border Patrol, the DPS and local law enforcement in filling the wide void left by the federal government in performing its obligation to protect our national borders.”