Two years after Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 4, which effectively banned sanctuary policies in cities and counties across the state, opponents of the law are looking to weaken it. Since its passage, SB 4 has faced multiple court challenges, most of which have been unsuccessful. But now, with a new legislative session underway, some Democrats and immigration activists hope to undo parts of the law.
This week, a group of lawmakers and activists held a news conference outside the Texas House railing against President Donald Trump's proposed border wall and pledging to weaken SB 4. In particular Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) vowed to support multiple bills to "water down" SB 4. Other Democrats at the event have already filed pro-sanctuary bills, including HB 445 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint) which would allow local officials to refuse cooperation with federal immigration agents in schools or hospitals.
Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), who authored SB 4 two years ago, isn't too worried. "We're here now, the battle was fought and won, it's good common sense policy to uphold the law, and I don't think they'll get very far with this legislation," he tells KTRH. "They're going to bring their stuff, and for whatever reason this is one of their agenda items, but I see it moving nowhere."
Despite all of the legal challenges and concerns expressed by opponents of the law, so far its enforcement has been fairly smooth. "Since SB 4 has been implemented, they can't point to any examples where there have been abuses, and all of the bad things they expected to happen haven't happened," says Perry.
Perry believes the effort to weaken SB 4 is only from a small fraction of Democrats looking for an issue to oppose Republicans. He argues the law should be bipartisan. "Everybody, I think on both sides, would agree we want honest, hard-working people to have opportunities in this country, but we can't ignore the rule of law to do that," says Perry.