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Texas Bill Would Give Police Discretion to Enforce Immigration Laws

By    |   Monday, 09 Mar 2015 03:08 PM

A controversial state bill in Texas, which would ban municipalities and counties from becoming "sanctuary cities" for illegal aliens, has hit a brief Democratic roadblock.

Scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, the bill was postponed when Democrats complained there had not been sufficient notice of the hearing, the Texas Tribune notes.

Senate Bill 185, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Charles Perry, would prohibit cities from putting in place blanket policies that prohibit the enforcement of state and federal immigration laws. Officers could inquire about a person's immigration status if they have been arrested or lawfully detained for a criminal offense.

A similar bill was fast-tracked by former GOP Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 but failed to pass, the Dallas Morning News reports. The current bill was delayed after objections from Democratic Sen. Jose Rodriguez.

"The people of Texas don’t want Texas to become Arizona," Rodriguez told the Morning News. "They don’t want it to become the 'show me your papers' state."

Rodriguez's action was an early indication that the bill will face stiff Democratic opposition.

Pastor Lynn Godsey, president of the Coalición Evangélica de Alianzas de Texas, an immigration rights group, told the Texas Tribune, "They woke up a sleeping evangelical, Latino giant. We’re awake and we ain’t going back to sleep. This move here today was a bad move, y’all."

The Monday morning hearing was posted on Friday and Rodriguez, who "tagged" the legislation, commented, "We have an obligation to ensure that there is an opportunity for everyone to have their voices heard," the Morning News noted.

Sen. Sylvia Garcia, a Houston Democrat, told the Texas Tribune, "I think it’s critical that we understand what this will do to everybody in this state. This will basically give someone the opportunity, if you will, to racially profile or just stop you for driving while brown. And that is not good for Texas."

However, Perry commented, "Today, unfortunately, some placed political posturing over public safety and common sense. Our bill is simple. Cities cannot pick and choose the laws they want to enforce. Public safety, not political correctness, should be the priority," the Tribune reported.

The Texas Star News reports that there are 15 sanctuary cities currently in Texas, where a "don't ask, don't tell" immigration policy is being followed.

The Tribune noted, "Monday's delay means only a temporary victory for Democrats, as the measure is likely to sail through the GOP-controlled Senate. Its fate in the Texas House is less clear."

Republican Sen. Brian Birdwell indicated the bill would be brought up again next week.

In 2010, Arizona passed a similar law and five other states, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah, followed suit, the ACLU notes, stating that such laws "invite rampant racial profiling against Latinos, Asian-Americans and others presumed to be 'foreign' based on how they look or sound. They also authorize police to demand papers proving citizenship or immigration status from anyone they stop and suspect of being in the country unlawfully."

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A controversial state bill in Texas, which would ban municipalities and counties from becoming "sanctuary cities" for illegal aliens, has hit a brief Democratic roadblock.
Texas, immigration, bill, Senate, House, police
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2015-08-09
Monday, 09 Mar 2015 03:08 PM
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