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“Sanctuary cities” bill gets final passage

It’s done.

The Texas Senate on Wednesday voted 20-11 to accept the House’s version of Senate bill 4, legislation that would ban “sanctuary” jurisdictions in Texas and allow police to inquire about the immigration status of people they lawfully detain.

The bill now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott, who declared the legislation an “emergency item” in the early days of the legislative session, and is widely expected to sign it.

The legislation makes sheriffs, constables, police chiefs and other local leaders subject to a Class A misdemeanor if they don’t cooperate with federal authorities and honor requests from immigration agents to hold noncitizen inmates subject to deportation. It also provides civil penalties for entities in violation of the provision that begin at $1,000 for a first offense and climb to as high as $25,500 for each subsequent infraction. The bill also applies to public colleges.

But the final version also includes a controversial House amendment that allows police officers to question a person’s immigration status during a detainment, as opposed to being limited to a lawful arrest. Democrats and immigrant rights groups argue this makes the bill “show-me-your-papers”-type legislation that will allow police to inquire about a person’s immigration status during the most routine exchanges, including traffic stops.

Before Wednesday’s vote, some lawmakers were still hopeful the bill would go to a conference committee where lawmakers from both chambers could strip the amendment from the bill. But during a floor debate Wednesday before the measure was approved by the Senate, the bill’s author, state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, said that the bill doesn’t require that officers ask a person’s immigration status. However the language does leave the door wide open for officers to make such inquiries if they feel the need during routine stops.

“We certainly don’t want ‘walking while brown’ to lead to reasonable suspicion,” said state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston. “It will happen. And in some parts of my district, it already is happening.”

[…]

It’s unclear however, if Abbott’s signature on the bill will be the end of the conversation. Several lawmakers have said a lawsuit to stop the implementation of SB 4 is very likely and cite several reasons, including legal questions surrounding the federal preemption of immigration laws and whether ICE detainers are voluntary.

Before the final vote, Perry seemed to acknowledge as much.

“We will let the court systems figure this out,” he told state Sen. Jose Menendez during a lengthy back-and-forth about probable cause.

You better believe there will be lawsuits. I trust we’ll have top-notch lawyers on this, I just hope the courts will keep up. May this wretched law never spend a day being enforced. The Chron, the Observer, and RG Ratcliffe have more.

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8 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    So now we are worried about being asked about immigration status during the detainment of a traffic stop? That equals stop and show your papers? Guess what? Most people will NEVER be stopped by a cop EXCEPT when they are driving a car, because there are so many ways to violate the law while driving. If you get pulled over with no DL, you should be scared, and the question of, “why were you driving without a license” dovetails nicely with, are you here legally?

    I can understand forgetting your billfold or purse, or having lost a D.L., but that is something that should be able to be rectified at the side of the road, as the cop looks up your DL picture based on the information you give. What we need to do is stop letting people with no DL leave the scene in their cars that they aren’t authorized to drive. Arrest those folks if their information doesn’t lead to a DL photo that matches the person being detained, and if you are illegal and got arrested for no DL, well, why should you be special? If I get arrested for no DL, so should any illegal alien caught for the same offense.

  2. Flypusher says:

    “So now we are worried about being asked about immigration status during the detainment of a traffic stop? That equals stop and show your papers? ”

    I’m White. What do you think my odds of being asked about my immigration status are as opposed to a fellow citizen with a darker skin tone and a bit of a Spanish accent?

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    @Fly:

    If you don’t actually have a driver’s license, I expect you not only to be asked, but to be arrested for driving without a license. Just think of how much better the traffic would be here in Houston if the roadways were actually limited to people who have a valid driver’s license. This would benefit everyone. Public transportation would have more fares, so would lose less money, and traffic jams would be reduced. Isn’t that what we would call a win-win?

    If we start arresting unlicensed drivers and impounding the cars, it will be just like illegal border crossings. Just announcing that that isn’t OK anymore and demonstrating a little bit of actual enforcement reduced illegal border crossings greatly. Arresting unlicensed drivers in Houston would accomplish something similar….discouraging crime, and isn’t that something we can ALL support?

  4. C.L. says:

    Can’t…breath…chest…hurting…find myself agreeing with Bill Daniels…

  5. Flypusher says:

    “If you don’t actually have a driver’s license, I expect you not only to be asked, but to be arrested for driving without a license. Just think of how much better the traffic would be here in Houston if the roadways were actually limited to people who have a valid driver’s license.”

    You’re evading my question. It isn’t about what you expect, but rather what is more likely to happen? To put it another way, how does this not devolve into racial profiling?

    I have a valid license, and keep the registration/inspection stickers current. But the last few times I’ve been pulled over it’s been for little things like one of the tail light bulbs had burnt out, and that’s something that’s very easy to notice when it happens. Each time I had a long wait, because the cops are going to take that opportunity to run your ID and plates through the computer. Now I am not complaining about that, but it seems that here is also the opportunity for “papers please”, so again how do we avoid disparity in the way I’m treated and the way a Hispanic citizen in equal circumstances is treated??

  6. Flypusher says:

    Make that very easy to NOT notice a burnt out tail light bulb.

  7. Bill Daniels says:

    @C.L.:

    LOL. That’s the thing about being a libertarian. Eventually everyone agrees with us about something. Today’s your day. Cheers!

  8. Ross says:

    @Bill, the bigger concern is when police respond to an incident at an apartment or home or other location not related to a traffic stop, and start detaining anyone who looks the least bit suspicious (that’s cop speak for “brown”). Cops don’t tell anyone they don’t have to answer cop questions, and there’s no requirement in Texas to identify yourself if you aren’t under arrest, and even then you only have to give your name, date of birth, etc. There’s no requirement to show your drivers license if you aren’t operating a motor vehicle. So, people will be intimidated into answering questions out of ignorance or fear. Local police have no reason, ever, to ask a person on the street their immigration status. It’s not relevant to anything local police deal with.

    Personally, I refuse to tell cops anything I am not legally required to tell. I am polite, but I do not say “sir”, they are not my boss, nor are they superior to me. If they ask where I’m coming from or going to, I refuse to answer, saying it’s none of their business.