As Texas prisons, both public and private, begin to fill up with undocumented immigrants that have criminal records, more cells may be necessary. Sanctuary cities have been in the crosshairs since the election of Gov. Greg Abbott. However, a new law may also target state law enforcement officials.
Following weeks of debate, protests and sit-ins at the state Capital, legislators passed Senate Bill 4. Legal experts claim that the bill that Abbott has vowed to sign is even more stringent than Arizona’s 2010 law.
The bill encompasses the following:
- Ban sanctuary jurisdictions that decline to hold immigrants arrested for local crimes past their release data when immigration authorities request detainers
- Allow police to inquire about immigration status of anyone detained for an alleged crime, including minor traffic violations.
- Force local officials to comply with federal immigration requests for those suspected of being in the country illegally
Forcing compliance by law enforcement will take the form of significant fines and jail time for those refuse to honor detention requests. While federal law does not mandate it, police chiefs and county sheriffs could face a year in jail.
Additionally, cities, counties and colleges will also face punishments in the form of fines for non-cooperation ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 a day.
Immigrant advocates, Democratic legislators and police organizations are vowing to continue the fight in court. Opponents argue that the bill violates 4th Amendment protections from warrantless arrests without probable cause and could lead to racial profiling.
Angie Junck, supervising attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, summed up the detractors’ opinions.
“This law takes some of the federal policies that we’ve seen and puts it on steroids.”