Immigration enforcement continues to ramp up not only in Texas following passage of Senate Bill 4, but also throughout the country. The growing chorus of protests includes unlikely critics.
The leaders of Texas’ law enforcement communities.
Civil rights groups and Texas city governments have teamed up to file multiple lawsuits against SB4, a law considered more harsh that its Arizona counterpart. The legislation contains punitive measures to police chiefs or sheriffs who order subordinates not to act in the role of immigration agents. Penalties include thousands in fines, but also possible removal from office.
The possible punishment captured the attention of law enforcement.
Immediately after the April passage of the bill in the Texas House of Representatives, the police chiefs of both Dallas and Houston Police Departments and heads of departments throughout the state issued a public statement. They urged lawmakers to reconsider, asserting that, “No one believes in the rule of law more than police officers.”
The group believes that the bill represents “political pandering that will make our communities more dangerous” and would undermine the trust they have built with their respective communities.
Their collective statement was not the first sign of opposition. Police chiefs have been speaking out against the bill since its introduction last fall. They claim that policing would present challenges with people not reporting crimes over fear of deportation should they come forward.
In the end, they claim that their officers are already too busy, if not overworked.
Law enforcement leadership believes that community policing has been at the core of what they have done over the last 20 to 30 years. They claim that crime rates are at an historic low in the face of population growth combined with understaffed and under-resourced police departments.