Tonight, the Texas House took on another of the issues Gov. Rick Perry has designated an emergency: sanctuary cities, or cities where police do not enforce federal immigration laws. The House State Affairs Committee started hearing testimony today on six immigration bills.
State Reps. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, and Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, grilled state Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, on the measure he authored, HB12, which would allow local law government entities to enforce federal immigration laws.
Oliveira said he is concerned the bill would allow police officers to do whatever they want when it comes to enforcing immigration laws.
Solomons said the bill would not require enforcement and that the public should trust officers to have good discretion.
"We depend on our police officers to do the right thing," Solomons said. "At the end of the day, the bill itself is about public policy in the state — uniform, consistent policy, because you don’t get to pick and choose which policy you want to enforce."
Opponents say the bill could promote racial profiling and deter immigrants who are victims of crimes from reporting them to police. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said he worried the measure would divert resources away from officers' primary job of combating crime.
"Our priority is not to do ICE’s job," Acevedo said, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "Legal or illegal, I don’t care, because if they do the crime, they do the time."
Proponents of the bill argue it would not lead to discriminatory practices, but would ensure the safety of law-abiding citizens.
Sue Salter's husband was a police officer who was shot in the face by an illegal immigrant. "Give them everything they need to uphold the law to keep you safe," she told the committee.