AUSTIN - Senate Bill 4, which would ban "sanctuary cities" in Texas, was passed by the Senate on Wednesday.
With SB 4 passed by the Senate 20-10, it will now be sent to the House. It passed on a party line vote of 20 to 11 in the Senate Tuesday. The bill passed Wednesday with a vote of 20-10 with Republican Senators voting in favor of it and the Democratic Senators voting against it. KVUE's Ashley Goudeau noted that state Sen. Jose Rodriguez was out on Wednesday.
The bill would require all Texas law enforcement agencies honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers. The detainers are voluntary request asking agencies to hold an inmate for 48 hours while federal agents investigate their immigration status. Senators have also added an amendment to the bill making it a Class A Misdemeanor if any elected official violates SB 4. That means if an elected official is convicted, they would be removed from office.
"Oftentimes officials are voted in and they commit crimes and they go away," said Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway). "I think that voters can vote for who they want and they expectation is that their folks will fall in line with state law."
If passed, the measure would directly impact Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez. She said the jail will not hold any inmates for ICE unless the person arrested is charged with murder, sexual assault or human smuggling.
Before the vote Wednesday senators made passionate closing remarks, trying to influence others to change their votes.
Senator Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) spoke about the fear many people have that their families will be negatively impacted by SB4.
"Even I am afraid as a Marine," said Uresti. "I'm afraid for my family because of the implications of this bill."
Other senators questioned the constitutionality of the bill, citing cases that ruled a detainer is not probable cause to hold someone. They also discussed the testimony from police chiefs across the state who don't back the bill. And mentioned the unintended consequences that will follow, mainly racial profiling.
"Anybody with a badge that says 'licensed peace officer' whether it's a school cop, whether it's a community college, hospital district, et cetera, can now, once this bill goes into law, if it does, can inquire as to your immigration status while you are lawfully detained which also means being stopped for a traffic ticket," said Senator Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio).
"[Racial profiling] will happen and I'm afraid we'll be down a road where driving while Brown will be as common as driving while Black,: said Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston). "And that's not good for our state."
Other senators spoke of the religious issues they have with the bill, quoting the bible, citing faith denominations that are against it, including the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops, and noting Jesus was an immigrant.
Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) spoke about the moral objections he had for the bill.
"I love our state," said Watson, "but Texas has a sad, sinful stained legacy of mistreating people who don't look like me."
The bill will now move to the House to be heard in committee. The House is expected to assign committees this week.
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