Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday signed into law a bill that would ban sanctuary cities in Texas and allow police officers to ask anyone they detain about their immigration status.
“As Governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets,” Abbott said in a statement announcing that he signed the bill. “It’s inexcusable to release individuals from jail that have been charged with heinous crimes like sexual assault against minors, domestic violence and robbery. There are deadly consequences to not enforcing the law, and Texas has now become a state where those practices are not tolerated. With this bill we are doing away with those that seek to promote lawlessness in Texas.”
The bill establishes misdemeanor penalties for any local police officer who does not aid federal law enforcement in detaining undocumented immigrants. If a local law enforcement entity declines to help federal officials, they would face a fine between $1,000 and $25,500.
The legislation, which is set to take effect Sept. 1, also includes an amendment that allows police officers to ask someone about their immigration status when they are detained.
I'm speculating idly here, but which County Attorney or DA is going to prosecute police officers for not aiding federal law enforcement in detaining undocumented immigrants? In most of the major Texas counties, the sheriff (an elected official, like the DA or the County Attorney), is responsible for the jail. Most jail systems are overcrowded already, and the big complaint against ICE is that they ask for a prisoner to be "detained", even if they aren't under arrest by the State, until they can get there.
And then they don't "get there" any too quickly. And the county pays the bills to hold this suspect, and gives up space to them, etc. If there is an argument against this law, other than the one made by David Hughes and Art Acevedo:
“We officers work extremely hard to build and maintain trust, communication, and stronger relationships with minority communities through community based policing and outreach programs,” they wrote. “Broad rules, such as those imposed by SB 4, that push local law enforcement to take a more active role in immigration enforcement will further strain the relationship between local law enforcement and these diverse communities.”It's the argument of practical economics.
“Officers would start inquiring about the immigration status of every person they come in contact with, or worse, inquire about the immigration status of people based on their appearance,” they continued. “This will lead to distrust of police and less cooperation from members of the community. And it will foster the belief that people cannot seek assistance from police for fear of being subjected to an immigration status investigation.”
So, police officers face fines as of September 1? And who is going to enforce that against them? In Travis County the sheriff won election promising to act like a "sanctuary" county (sheriff's are county, not city, officials). Will the Sheriff be fined under this law? Not real likely, is it? And as for Abbott's bloody shirt waving (“It’s inexcusable to release individuals from jail that have been charged with heinous crimes like sexual assault against minors, domestic violence and robbery."), how dare he imply that's happening? So, what Gov., our police officers and sheriff's deputies aren't arresting violent criminals? Our jails are overcrowded with, what? Jaywalkers? The Texas Observer says the law provides for jail time as well as fines, so the crowded jails that can't hold the violent criminals will be stuffed with: police officers?
And as for checking immigration status: that'll be a laugh riot in a city as cosmopolitan as Houston. Will they go by accents? It's a better indicator than skin color.
Yeah, I can see this law making BIG changes in Texas. Or not.....