'Sanctuary city' bill called racist ahead of Texas House vote
AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 26) - After months of angry outcry, months of accusation and counter claim in every community across the Lone Star State, the issue of outlawing so-called "sanctuary cities" has come down to a very full day on the floor of the Texas House.
Supporters of the measure say forcing local law enforcement to check the immigration status of those they arrest will help federal agents rid Texas streets of criminal aliens via deportation.
"This bill specifically targets criminals who happen to be here illegally. The bottom line is if you don't do something to get arrested and hang out with somebody who does and are taken to jail, this bill is not going to effect you," said State Representative Charlie Gerens, a Ft. Worth Republican sponsoring the bill.
Outraged but outnumbered Hispanic lawmakers fought back, highlighting over and over the near unanimous opposition of Texas peace officers who face potential prosecution if they fail to hold the undocumented.
State Representative Rene Oliveira claims that instead of making Texas safer this SB 4 will put tens of thousands of immigrant lives at risk.
"They are not going to cooperate with law enforcement when there is a murder, when there is a drug deal, when there is a rape, when there is a sexual assault or any of these things for fear of deportation," said Oliveira, a Democrat from Brownsville.
"There is nothing in this bill that says that people can be arrested here for being here illegally," countered Gerens.
In a frequently emotional plea, Hispanics in the House accused Governor Greg Abbott of lying to the public and conservative members in the majority of fomenting institutional racism.
"I saw mothers trembling. If you have succeeded in anything members, you succeeded in terrifying an entire community," said State Representative Rafael Anchia, a Democrat from Dallas.
A similar version of this Sanctuary City bill has already passed the Texas Senate and is fully supported by the Governor.
Based upon multiple test votes, it is certain to pass the Republican-controlled House.