Two Republican boosters have circulated a memo urging business owners to call or email lawmakers on the powerful House Committee on State Affairs to encourage them to vote against the “sanctuary cities” bills pending before the committee.
Norman Adams, the co-founder of Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy and a member of Texas GOP Vote, a conservative website, and Dr. Steve Hotze, the chairman of Conservative Republicans of Texas, are urging a “no” vote on HB9 and SB9, which they say “can only serve political purposes.”
Hotze alone contributed at least $60,000 personally and at least $640,000 through his political action committee to Republican House and Senate candidates in the last election cycle.
The committee was originally scheduled to take up the measures today but postponed the meeting until Monday. If the bills are voted out it could be a race against time for their final passage before the special session ends on Wednesday.
The measures, however, may be given new life if lawmakers’ attempts to add them to a must-pass budget bill are seccessful. State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, told hundreds of Latino elected officials today that she was told Republicans were trying to adopt an “outside the bounds” resolution that would attach the “sanctuary cities” measure to SB1, a budget bill that has been negotiated since the beginning of the special session.
The full text of the letter is below:
The State Affairs Committee has rescheduled its Friday morning meeting to Monday morning. After talking to most of the Republican committee members, it seems to me the sole purpose of this bill is political. I believe most of the Republicans on the committee feel they have to enact something, but they don’t want to do any real harm.
The current version of HB 9 is better than SB 9 in that it only deals with the one single issue; a strong penalty against any governmental entity that restricts the authority of their employees to make inquiries regarding an individual’s immigration status. It now includes a non-discriminatory provision, which is broad enough that in theory it would not be randomly applied solely because a person is Hispanic. However as a practical matter, we all know that it will be Hispanics, including Hispanic American Citizens, that will be asked to prove their immigration status as opposed to white or black persons.
The bill itself can only serve political purposes, allowing Republicans to claim that they have done something and giving Governor Perry a "perceived" victory. But it’s essentially unenforceable. It has been sold as having something to do with helping law enforcement detain criminal aliens or terrorists, which is factually incorrect.
Any law enforcement agent can make an inquiry based on probable cause to determine whether or not someone is committing a crime or is engaged in terrorist activities. This bill allows a law enforcement officer to make inquiries solely for immigration purposes.
Consider this. If an officer determines he has reason to believe that someone is out of status, a difficult legal determination since this is a federal offense and in many cases it is not even a criminal offense, the officer has no authority to arrest that individual and can only report them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If the individual is going to be arrested, this entire law is irrelevant because we already use 287G and Secure Communities. So what this means is, we will have officers making inquiries of those individuals they cannot otherwise arrest, and then advising ICE and detaining such individuals until ICE picks them up.
As a practical matter, ICE does not have the resources. ICE, in fact, has their own enforcement priority which is to focus their limited resources on the detention and arrest of criminal aliens, suspected terrorists and individuals with outstanding deportation orders. Therefore, it is unlikely that ICE would even allow one of its agents to respond to a call simply to determine if someone is out of status. Even if they were to do so, in the interim that police officer would be out of commission and there would be a serious issue as to whether or not the officer had made a false arrest by holding someone that is not subject to any criminal charge. Just imagine the number of lawsuits!
The Governor's political advisers evidently believe this bill will help his image nationally. The fact is, passage of this bill will convince more Hispanic voters that Republicans really do want to deport their mothers! What a terrible message for Texas!
The media headlines will read "Texas follows Arizona!" How ironic it is that Texas Republicans would vote for a bill that will make it more difficult to recruit Hispanics to their party!
Republican members of this legislature have rightfully refused to even consider scores of bills based on the fact that they would generate unfunded mandates.
No one denies this bill will increase the number of citizen children whose parents are deported. This bill will increase the cost of housing nonviolent inmates. This bill will increase the cost of officer training. This bill will increase required officer manpower.
So what will you do? Will you vote for a bill that creates unfunded mandates because of political pressure? Or will you do what is best for Texas and vote NO? Even if you think the majority of your constituents favor this bill, you should make your decision based on facts and reality. That is why you were elected. Otherwise, we could simply do a poll on every issue. You could be at home running your business and enjoying your family. Most of your constituents have not studied the issues, or heard the testimony!
Please allow me to close with one point we have learned so well over the four years of the immigration debate. Illegal immigration is an emotionally charged debate. However one thing is clear, on this issue, the haters are the minority. They are not the voting majority!
It is our prayer you will vote NO.
God bless you for listening, and may God continue to bless Texas!
Norman E. Adams, Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy
Steven Hotze, MD, Conservative Republicans of Texas
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.