Mayor Sylvester Turner addresses sanctuary cities bill

Mayor Sylvester Turner is on the attack and says the legislature needs a civics lesson.

"We will act in accordance with the United States Constitution and with the Supreme Court," explains Mayor Turner. "If they say it's OK, we're OK."

In other words, he beleives that Texas Senate Bill 4 will change nothing in Houston. He made the comments after his State of the City address before the Greater Houston Partnership in which he praised Houston as a welcoming city.

SB4 would require law enforcement officers to honor federal detention requests even if a person wasn't arrested on an immigration-related charge. Failure to comply would be punishable by jail time. It would also allow police to question people about their immigration status if arrested or detained.

Critics argue the bill would make us less safe.

Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo says even before its passage, the law is creating a divide between the Hispanic community and law enforcement agencies.

"We've seen a 42.8 percent reduction in the reporting of sexual assaults by members of the Hispanic community in the city of Houston," says Chief Acevedo.

Mayor Turner says the impact is wider than that. It's driving down the amount of people visiting public health clinics.

"Hispanics and other groups who come to various centers, we have seen a notable decline in the number of people who are coming and getting the services that they need," adds Turner.

The Texas Senate bill goes even further than President Donald Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities, which a federal judge blocked in April.

Supporters of the bill say police should enforce the laws, all of them, not pick and choose.

Mayor Turner predicts a legal challenge if Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs the Senate bill, which he has indicated that he will. In the meantime, it will be business as usual in Houston.

"The Houston Police Department is not ICE," says Acevedo. "You heard it from the Mayor and you heard it from the police chief."