SB4, Texas Senate Bill 4, passed on May 7, 2017 and will go into effect on September 1, 2017. Champions of SB4 claim that it will increase public safety by requiring the state to enforce laws already put in place by the federal government. Its opponents claim that it will create more racial profiling and more harm, not put citizens at ease.

In effect, SB4 bans the existence of “sanctuary cities,” those cities that provide support and protection for undocumented immigrants. Texas Senator Charles Perry who authored the bill claimed, “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 through uniform application of the law without prejudice.”

Who:

  • Authored by Charles Perry, current Texas Senator. Perry is one of the 31 members of the Texas Senate, each representing a different district within the state. You can learn more about the Texas Senate here.
  • It affects law enforcement and state officials who are now charged with identifying undocumented immigrants (and who will face punitive consequences for failure to comply with the law).

What:

  • Under SB4 local and state law enforcement can now question the immigration status of its residents. To read the actual text of the law, visit here.
  • Considered a “show me your papers” law and a ban on sanctuary cities.
  • As an Immigration Enforcement Law it compels officers, while making an arrest, to detain anyone suspected of being undocumented.

When:

  • Passed on May 7, 2017. Effective September 1, 2017.

Where:

  • Texas, but similar to recent Arizona Policy Senate Bill 1070. Under Senate Bill 1070 police were forced to ask about the immigration status of those pulled over during routine traffic stops. The lawsuit against SB1070 reached the U.S. Supreme Court, but many of its components were upheld.

Why:

How:

  • Officials who fail to detain an individual who may be undocumented could face the following consequences: 1) charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year of jail time, b) a $4,000 fine (or both the charge & the fine), and c) a civil penalty of $25,500 per day and removal from his/her elected or appointed office.

Additional Notes
Opponents argue that it violates the 1st amendment, as now officials who’ve been outspoken in their support for immigrants could face criminal charges if they are PERCEIVED as failing to comply.

Others argue that it is an unfunded mandate, one that would improperly and irresponsibly divert critical resources that could be used to address MAJOR CRIMES such as murder and sexual assault.

Still others believe that it will heighten the sense of fear and distrust that many already feel towards the police due to recent, very public deaths of people of color.

Others fear that there will be a decrease in the number of reported crimes, but not in actual crimes committed.

There may be an increase of instances in which cities and counties sue the state due to overreach.

 

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