On Friday, February 11, freshman State Senator Jose Rodriguez (D – El Paso) filed SB600 which is basically the antithesis of Arizona’s SB1070 and then some. If passed, which I highly doubt (it’ll be lucky if it’s even assigned to a committee), SB600 would prohibit “law enforcement inquiries regarding the nationality or immigration status of a victim of or witness to a criminal offense.” Really? Isn’t this taking the whole racist paranoia thing a little too far? This legislation is clearly at odds with federal immigration statutes and seeks to add to one of the flaws of our current immigration system – sanctuary cities.
I understand that with a renewed interest in immigration, some Latinos feel uneasy, but the only ones who should be nervous at all are those who are here illegally, more specifically those who have committed a crime while in the country illegally. This bill will not combat imagined “racial profiling,” as I’m sure the author believes it will. This bill actually does nothing more than directly conflict with federal law which allows law enforcement to inquiry as to the immigration status and nationality of those involved in a criminal offense via federal agents. SB600 states that law enforcement officers can inquiry about a person’s status if it is necessary to investigate the offense. Isn’t that the only reason a law enforcement officer would ask someone these types of questions anyway–if they were somehow involved in or witness to a crime? So what is the point of this proposed legislation other than to distract and prop up imaginary discrimination?
Under existing laws, state and local peace officers cannot directly investigate whether or not a detainee is illegal, but they can ask federal agents such as ICE to determine the immigration status of an individual. This systems seems to work very well because state and local law enforcement officers focus on stopping crimes while federal agents are responsible for protecting our borders. This is exactly what our legislators should be focusing on when it comes to “sanctuary cities,” increasing cooperation between local, state, and federal agents. I supported Arizona during the summer because they were facing a more difficult situation than we here in Texas are, and I have always said that Texas can do better on dealing with immigration. Focusing on increasing the resources that facilitate more cooperation between various levels of law enforcement is definitely a start.
Senator Rodriguez, however, seems to believe that “sanctuary city” policies are good for people, especially for illegal immigrants. Rather than make it easier for people to hide in the shadows and inevitably limit their opportunities, Republicans believe in keeping those who wish to do harm out while giving those who want to work opportunities for success. All of this, however, is based on abiding by our nation’s laws. Laws are not meant to make everyone happy, but they are intended to keep us safe. Such is the case with immigration, Senator Rodriguez may not want law enforcement officers to inquiry as to the immigration status of those involved in a criminal offense but the truth is that doing so not only keeps US citizens safe but those involved safe. Senator Rodriguez needs to realize that sanctuary cities violate federal statutes because they direct law enforcement to ignore the laws they have pledged to uphold and enforce!
In the end, SB600 does nothing more than fear monger and contradict federal immigration laws. Thankfully it will be extremely difficult for SB600 to get anywhere in the Texas legislature, but those who advocate for such legislation need to realize that laws are not supposed to be fair which means there cannot be exceptions because they are afraid someone who may have been involved in a crime is in the country illegally and could be deported under federal law. SB600 undermines the safety of Texas communities, including the illegals they purport to protect. Under existing federal law no one is targeted unfairly; the only people who should be afraid of law enforcement are those who have a reason to – those who have broken the law or done harm to others. Ultimately I am confident that the Texas legislature will realize that they need to be increasing cooperation between state and federal law enforcement when it comes to ending “sanctuary city” policies rather than getting in the way of those who are just trying to do their job and protect us.