Local reaction to Senate Bill 4

EL PASO, TEXAS - Texas lawmakers spent 16 hours going back and forth about Senate Bill 4, also known as the "anti-sanctuary cities bill". Ultimately the bill passed with at 93 to 54 vote.

The Republican Party of Texas says they are "thrilled that the Texas House voted in favor of upholding the rule of law by passing SB4.

 The House version will punish local enforcement agencies which don't comply with a Class A misdemeanor and with penalties that could cost them from $1,000 to $25 thousand dollars.

Democrats offered many amendments to protect people in certain locations like domestic violence shelters, pre-k schools and homeless shelters-all of them shut down. One victory for Democrats was to allow employees and peace officers at places of worship to be excluded  from assisting federal immigration officers.

Bishop Mark Seitz with the El Paso Catholic Dioceses says SB4 is an overreaction to unfounded fear.

"The effect of this law will be to make thousands of law-abiding people who escaped life threatening situations in their home countries and are simply seeking to work and raise their families, live in debilitating fear", says Bishop Seitz.

The executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights says El Paso is a safe city because of the trust the community has with law enforcement. With the amendment allowing local law enforcement agencies to ask anybody about their immigration status, he says people will will be afraid of officers, making El Paso less safe. 

"this is just going to fuel the anti-immigrant agenda in Texas, I mean it's going to fuel racism. I think we have to resist that and we have to fight that."says Fernando Garcia.

A meeting held Thursday night by the Border Interfaith and the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization provided people with information they need to know about their rights. A woman who's been in the United States for fifteen years says the fear of deportations has increased since the Trump Administration. The woman saying now they even have to be afraid that police officers will turn them in. Here is some of the information provided by the immigration attorney present at the meeting:

You have the right to remain silent.

You don't have to let anybody into your home without a warrant.

You have the right to speak with an immigration attorney and see an immigration judge.

Don't sign anything given to you.

Since changes were made to the bill passed by the Senate, the bill will now go to a conference committee where the changes can be negotiated before making its way to Governor Abbott's desk.

El Paso County officials have said in the past that they would probably sue the state if the bill is signed into law.

 


 


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