McALLEN, RGV – Live on Facebook, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday signed Senate Bill 4, retitled the “Show Me Your Papers” legislation by critics, into law.
Abbott said the bill will ban “sanctuary cities” in the state of Texas by requiring local government entities and law enforcement officials to comply with federal immigration laws and detainer requests.
The bill, authored by state Sen. Charles Perry of Lubbock, creates criminal penalties for entities that do not enforce the law. Banning “sanctuary cities” was one of Governor Abbott’s emergency legislative priorities.
“As Governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets,” Abbott said.
“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.”
Abbott said entities and officials that do not comply with the law could face the following penalties:
- A civil penalty for entities in violation of the law of up to $25,500 for each day of the violation.
- A class A misdemeanor for a sheriff, chief of police, or constable who fails to comply with federal immigration detainer requests
- Removal from office for any elected or appointed official who does not comply with the law.
WATCH LIVE: Governor Greg Abbott signs bill banning sanctuary cities into law.
Posted by Office of the Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday, May 7, 2017
Abbott’s signing of the bill was immediately condemned by Mexican-American groups.
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, a McAllen native, serves a district in Travis County, which has been at the center of the national “sanctuary cities” debate. He serves on the House Committee of State Affairs, which removed the “show me your papers” provision before it was restored in the Texas House of Representatives; and as policy chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the oldest and largest Latino legislative caucus in the United States.
“Texas has its own ‘show me your papers’ law, thanks to Governor Greg Abbott,” Rodriguez said Sunday. “SB 4 will be challenged in court – you can take that to the bank. When Governor Abbott signed SB 4 tonight, he also signed a blank check on the taxpayer’s’ behalf to protect yet another blatantly discriminatory law. The law won’t take effect until September 1, 2017. In the meantime, we must raise awareness about SB 4 so that folks are vigilant about racial profiling.”
Senate Bill 4 has been especially criticized for discouraging witnesses and victims of rape and domestic abuse from reporting crime to the police. Rodriguez pointed out that Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo recently announced a 42 percent decrease in the number of Hispanic victims reporting rape to his department. Acevedo said this ‘chilling effect’ is likely to get worse under SB 4.
“My colleagues and I in the Mexican American Legislative Caucus will not stop fighting against this law. We are the oldest and largest Latino caucus in the nation, and we will oppose SB 4 long after many of those who voted for its passage lose their seats in the Texas Legislature,” Rodriguez added.
Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, said SB 4 encourages racial profiling by untrained immigration agents, clogs up Texas jails with mandatory detainers and removes democratically elected representatives from office should they fail to comply. Burke pointed out that sheriffs and police chiefs throughout Texas have criticized the law for fomenting distrust in law enforcement and endangering public safety.
“This is not the Texas I know,” Burke said. “This racist and wrongheaded piece of legislation ignores our values, imperils our communities and sullies our reputation as a free and welcoming state. Our immigrant communities need to know that we stand with you; we will fight this assault in the courts, at the ballot box, and in the streets if we have to. This is an assault on humanity. It will not stand.”
La Unión del Pueblo Entero
The Rio Grande Valley could be affected most by SB 4 because it is has a large number of undocumented immigrants. However, some police chiefs, while keeping a low profile, are not expected to instruct their officers to work as immigration agents.
La Unión del Pueblo Entero will protest Abbott and SB 4 outside the Department of Public Safety offices at 1414 N Bicentennial Blvd., McAllen, at 11 a.m. on Monday. John-Michael Torres, spokesman for the group, said SB 4 was racist because it targets all black and brown people across the state.
“This evening, Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and all of the Republican legislators who voted for this bill have cemented their legacy as the racist bigots they are for generations to come,” Torress said. “But this is not the end of the fight. We will challenge SB 4 in the courts and in the streets, and we are committed for the long-haul. It may be a long road, but we will get there. As our founder Cesar Chavez said, ‘we only lose when we no longer want to fight.'”
Torres said he is confident that, at the end of the day, the Texas that believes diversity is a source of strength will prevail.
Senate Bill 4 will go into effect on September 1, 2017.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo Credit: AP/Tony Gutierrez.