Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday signed an anti-sanctuary cities bill into law while several immigration advocacy groups prepare to follow through with lawsuits to block it from going into effect in September.
Marisa Bono, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, says the final version of Senate Bill 4 is not at all what supporters had promised in the beginning.
“We're particularly troubled by the provision that allows police officers to ask about immigration status pre-arrest, that goes far beyond what the federal law requires,” says Bono.
Bono defends the actions by Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez and others who have released some criminal aliens back into the population, whether it be a political decision, due to jail overcrowding or other reasons.
“The federal government does not require local law enforcement agencies to honor each and every single detainer, and the state is taking that local decision making and descretion away.”
The law would punish local officials who ignore federal immigration laws.
“Any police officer can say 'well, this guy looks Mexican, I guess we have to ask him if he's legal or not,' but why should I be subject to that kind of discriminatory treatment because of my appearance? Because of heritage? Because of my background?” asks Artury Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and second generation Texan from El Paso.
Vargas argues it's not the state's place to push immigration enforcement.
“Immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility and the federal government, Congress, has been incapable or unwilling to address immigration reform ever since the days of George W. Bush who tried very hard to get this done before the attacks of 9/11,” he says.