Austin Declares Itself 'Freedom City'

The city of Austin is still keepin' it weird. Undeterred by the state's anti-sanctuary city law, Austin city council this month took it a step further by declaring it a "freedom city."

One resolution requires police to instruct immigrants they don't have to answer questions about their status.

According to Local Progress, a national network of progressive city officials, some council members in El Paso and Dallas are also considering “freedom city” proposals.

The city of Houston also joined Austin's legal challenge of SB 4, but so far City Councilman Michael Kubosh, who opposed the lawsuit, says he hasn't heard any talk of so-called “freedom city” laws here locally.

“What concerns me about fighting SB 4 is I don't want the president to stop giving grant funds to the city of Houston because we're fighting against the very thing he may be trying to do with securing our border,” says Kubosh.

“If you put yourself in a situation where you're in violation of any law, you certainly might be facing ICE and possible deportation.

Austin also passed a resolution directing police to avoid arrests for misdemeanors. One official suggested too many people of color are charged with misdemeanors which then makes them vulnerable to immigration checks.

“Every single one of our officers has a body camera on, they don't have the discretion to decide who goes to jail and who doesn't,” says Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union. “We are blind when it comes to race, color, creed or any other factor. We're just out there doing our job.”

“If you're in this country illegally and you're arrested, chances are you're going to be deported. And I think most people agree with that,” Gamaldi added.

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