Texas law enforcement officers may find themselves subject to misdemeanor charges if they oppose Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities, USA Today Reports.
On Wednesday, representatives in Texas worked late into the night debating the controversial Senate Bill 4, which, among many things, would require law enforcement officials to aid ICE in their cases against immigrants. The bill was finally approved early Thursday morning by a vote of 93-54, with voting split down party lines: Republicans for and Democrats against. Texas authorities who refuse to comply with ICE detainer requests could find themselves subject to Class A Misdemeanor Charges.
The bill also gives Texas law enforcement the right to question a person’s immigration status “without probable cause,” USA Today reports. Theoretically, it could allow a law enforcement officer to question someone just based on their looks. However, this obligation could put Texas law enforcement in a major legal bind, as the 4th amendment guarantees “rights of the people” (not explicitly citizens) to be secure in their persons […] against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Senate Bill 4 effectively prevents cities from providing “sanctuary” areas for undocumented immigrants, the Texas Tribune reports.
Senate Bill 4 has been given the nickname of “Show Me Your Papers Bill.”
The wording in Senate Bill 4 also allows authorities to use a broad definition of the word “person,” which means they can legally interrogate a child over their immigration status.
According to the Texas Observer, Texas Democrats were concerned that using the word “person” in SB4 opened the door for authorities to interrogate children over their legal status.
San Antonio Representative Diego Bernal tried to change the language from “a person” to “an adult.”
Bernal’s efforts failed to gain traction with the lawmakers, and the bill was passed with “a person” still in place. Bernal told the Texas Observer that the bills passage was “soul crushing,” adding:
“I was trying to find something where I believed there was actually common ground. I had talked to a lot of the members individually about it, saying I was going to propose something along those lines, and person to person, they expressed support for it. But I guess they couldn’t vote to it.”
To read the line Rep. Bernal was hoping to change, check out Senate Bill 4 here.
Senate Bill 4 adds fuel to another bill, Senate Bill 1018, which paves the way for what some are calling “baby prisons.”
While childcare facilities in Texas must adhere to regulations and standards to retain their licenses, Senate Bill 1018 lowers the standards for family detention centers. As the Texas Observer reported, in some cases, minors would be permitted to share rooms with “unrelated adults” due to these relaxed requirements. The bill also allows for longer detention of children and their mothers.
Many Texas Democrats expressed shame and outrage over the Senate Bill 4’s passage.
Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro said the bill was the product of “fear and scapegoating.”
Texas House member Rafael Anchia called out lawmakers who used “immigrants for political gain.”
Rep. Anchia also publicly called out the Texas legislature for its history of discrimination, saying, “So when history examines this timeline, in this moment, and your kids, maybe your grandkids, see you in the background of some of these photos, will they ask, ‘Who were you? How could this be?”
Rep. Gene Wu, himself a son of immigrants, gave an emotional speech on dark moments in our country’s history.
During Rep. Wu’s short time at the podium, he brought up both the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Rep. Wu discussed that both episodes in American history were based on the fact that the Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans were “obviously different. They looked different. They sounded different. And they were obviously alien, even though they were Americans.” Wu added, “And this bill — this type of action — is particularly painful, because it brings up all of those memories.”
As USA Today reports, the bill will now head to Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s office for approval.
Gov. Abbot has tweeted his support for the bill.
[H/T] USA TODAY: Texas sanctuary cities bill could impact locals