SAN JUAN, RGV – La Unión del Pueblo Entero says its “know your rights” sessions are going to be more important than ever now the Texas Senate has passed SB 4.
The Senate on Wednesday adopted House amendments to the so-called “show me your papers” legislation. The bill, which allows police officers to ask people their legal status before they’ve even been arrested, now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott for signature.
“What we are encouraging the community to do right now is educate themselves so that if they do come into contact with immigration, they know their rights. We are telling members to take note of who stops them so that in the event of any civil rights violation we can route things properly,” said Tania Chavez, special projects coordinator for LUPE.
Asked about LUPE’s know your rights sessions, Chavez said: “We are doing them in schools and colonias. The primary purpose is that we not only prepare them in the event of a deportation, but also to make sure they have a family preference plan, what will happen to my children in the event I get deported. Education is key to ensure our community is as safe as possible.”
Chavez said that once SB 4 is passed into law LUPE will challenge the legislation in court.
“We will take this bill to the courts. We are already organizing with various civil rights organizations across the nation and locally, such as TRLA, ACLU, MALDEF. I want to remind the community that SB 70 in Arizona, which is very similar to SB 4, was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. We are very confident that we will get the same judgment.”
Asked why she thought SB 4 would be found unconstitutional, Chavez said: “We know that racial profiling was one of the issues where we had a victory over SB 70. Racial profiling is not something Americans believe in. It is not what this nation was founded on. The testament of many police departments and sheriffs were against SB4. That should tell the Governor that this is not the right choice for Texas.”
SB 4, also known as the anti-sanctuary cities legislation, requires local law enforcement to carry out the work of federal immigration agencies. It also punishes cities who refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The legislation has been attacked by clergy, police chiefs, and Hispanic groups.
“It’s a dark day in Texas. The Legislature has purposefully approved a bill they know discriminates against Texas Latinos. One week after a sixth court decision finding intentional discrimination by the Texas Legislature since 2011, they doubled down with this hateful bill,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, on behalf of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.
“Before this legislation is challenged in court, Governor Abbott has one last chance to defend Latino families. We need the type of leadership shown by former Governor George W. Bush when he resisted calls for bringing California’s Prop. 187 to Texas. I urge him to look into his heart, reflect on his Catholic and family values, and do the right thing for Texas families.”
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops said it opposes SB 4 because “it would effectively sever communication between law enforcement and the migrant community.” TCCB said the legislation is not targeted or proportionate, noting that individuals with criminal convictions are not prioritized for detention and deportation.
Texas Association of Business CEO Jeff Moseley strongly opposes SB 4.
“SB 4, especially the ‘show me your papers’ amendment by Rep. Schaeffer is a step back for Texas and will hurt the business community and families alike. SB 4, with this amendment, will most likely land the State of Texas in court. It is unfortunate that the Senate decided to concur with House amendments to SB 4,” Moseley said.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he has been working to end sanctuary cities in Texas since his days as a state senator.
“This legislation will eliminate a substantial incentive for illegal immigration and help make Texas communities safer. In the past six years, criminal aliens have been charged with more than 566,000 crimes in Texas including kidnapping, homicide, burglary and much more. There is no excuse for endangering our communities by allowing criminal aliens who have committed a crime to go free. SB 4 will ensure that no liberal local official can flaunt the law,” Patrick said.
“I’m proud to announce that today that SB 4, which will ban the dangerous practice of sanctuary cities, is on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature.”
State Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, is the author of Senate Bill 4. He said he was happy to concur with the House changes to the bill.
“Banning sanctuary cities is about stopping officials who have sworn to enforce the law from helping people who commit terrible crimes evade immigration detainers. Senate Bill 4 protects all Texans though uniform application of the law without prejudice,” said Perry.
“I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate and House, especially Representative Geren for carrying the bill in the House. I also want to thank Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Speaker Straus for their commitment to banning sanctuary cities in Texas.”
State Sen. José Rodríguez, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, issued this statement:
“For years, whether out of sincere or cynical motives, politicians have conflated immigrants and crime, and have denigrated our border communities as unsafe and out of control. The facts do not bear this out. SB 4 is the culmination of growing anti-immigrant sentiment that emerged fully in the last presidential campaign and has taken root in Texas.
“SB 4 was bad when it left the Senate, and did not get better in the House. Texas has completed its transition from the state that welcomed free trade and embraced Mexican and other immigrants only a generation ago into one that disguises discrimination as security.
“How else do you explain it when your top law enforcement officials tell you that a proposal will make communities less safe, as they overwhelmingly did during the debate over SB 4, and yet you persist in passing the bill and saying it’s about public safety?
“Among other things, SB 4 allows local police to make instant decisions about complex federal immigration law, which is a recipe for discriminatory constitutional violations.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows Tania Chavez, special projects coordinator for LUPE.