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This Week in Texas: Texas Leaders Silent on DACA, Mayor of Laredo Wants Resolution on SB 4 Instead of Lawsuit

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The Dallas Morning News today had an interesting piece highlighting the silence from Texas Republicans a week after the state’s Attorney General announced he was going to sue Donald Trump unless the president ended DACA. As the Dallas Morning News wrote:

Support for Paxton’s action from his fellow Texas Republicans has been muted. None of the major statewide elected officials have publicly sounded off on Paxton’s threat to sue the federal government over the controversial immigration program, even though most tout their tough-on-immigration credentials.

That includes Gov. Greg Abbott, who as Texas’ attorney general in 2014 filed suit against an expansion of the program that would have granted temporary deportation relief to unauthorized immigrants who were parents of American citizens or legal residents. That suit eventually blocked the program from going into effect.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has said the program “defied both the Constitution and the rule of law,” has also stayed mum on Paxton’s letter, as has U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who promised to do away with the program during his presidential campaignagainst Trump last year.

Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate who has urged caution on rescinding a program that has served about 800,000 people since 2012, also hasn’t weighed in.

Texas has the second-highest number of DACA beneficiaries, after California. Texas Republicans (besides Attorney General Ken Paxton), so far don’t want to be tied to Paxton’s effort to deport  Dreamers. But that doesn’t mean much from this crowd — all of the named Republicans above have consistently been horrible on other aspects of immigration and will be again. But advocates are making it clear that staying silent won’t be an option. As Manny Garcia, the deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party said:

[Republicans are] either not willing to talk about it or outright go and attack Dreamers. You got people who are willing to be silent and at this point, silence is complicit. It’s remarkable that the Republican Party is refusing to come out and defend these students who are now in the cross-hairs of Donald Trump.

Cristina Tzintzun, executive director of the grassroots political organizing group Jolt, said that Texas Republicans’ continuing assault on immigrants, from SB 4 to DACA, would have political repercussions:

SB 4 and DACA will continue to move Latinos to take political action because the attacks are so far-reaching, so extreme that people feel they must act. We understand that changing Texas doesn’t happen overnight. We’re in it for the long haul and we’re interested in seeing that democracy represents our needs and includes people that look like us.

Mayor of Laredo prefers resolution on SB 4 over lawsuit

In this week in Texas, Pete Saenz, the mayor of Laredo, Texas, posted on Facebook that the City Council will soon vote on whether Laredo will join the lawsuits against the anti-immigrant SB 4 law.  Laredo is a border town where over 95% of the residents are Hispanic or Latino. Another border town, El Cenizo, was the first city in Texas to sue the state over SB 4, and since then it’s been joined by just about all the major cities in Texas. But Pete Saenz would prefer a resolution over a lawsuit, saying that he fears losing funding and that a resolution would lend “support in spirit”. As he wrote:

The City should not join the lawsuit but rather take a stance by way of Resolution, or other means short of directly intervening; the City should clearly state that it is not a ‘sanctuary city’ under any definition, whether by statute or common law; and, the City should state it favors clarification and/or changes to some provisions of SB-4. Particularly, clarifications to: the potential dangers of targeting or racial profiling, fear of immigrant victims and/or witnesses coming forward to report crimes, and other various perceived constitutional violations.

It seems that Saenz should look at the many reasons why people support so-called “sanctuary cities” and oppose Texas’ SB 4 law. Sanctuary cities are safer, and they help protect immigrants who have not committed major crimes from deportation. SB 4, on the other hand, would target all immigrants and Latinos living in Texas, encouraging racial profiling and leading to decreased public safety. There’s a reason why big-city police chiefs across Texas oppose SB 4. As the leader of a nearly all-Latino border town, the best thing Saenz could do for his constituents would be to take a stand against the law that could end up targeting many of them.

As El Cenizo Mayor Paul Reyes said:

Every city should have the right to make their own determination, but other cities with a smaller percentage of Hispanic population are standing up against this. And Laredo is waiting on the sideline. No dollar amount is more important than standing up for our people and doing the right thing.

San Antonio Police Chief: SB 4 will lead to racial profiling

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus spoke before the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) yesterday to reiterate his opposition to SB 4. McManus said that SB 4 would be detrimental to community safety because it would lead to police acting as immigration agents, distracting them from their real mission. He also said that SB 4 would lead to racial profiling, as it would be impossible for police to ask for papers without sizing up people based on illegal determinations. As McManus said:

SB 4 is wrong for so many reasons – I know I’m only supposed to talk about how it impacts police resources. Our primary mission at the San Antonio Police Department is to handle calls for service and work with the community to prevent and solve crimes. That is it. It’s not to chase people around and ask for their immigration status….

For every second an officer spends dealing with an immigration matter, that’s a second … responding to your emergency calls [that’s] twittered away. When you’re dealing with emergency calls, every second matters, and if we’re tied up on immigration matters, our response time will increase….

[McManus said local police is not trained to enforce federal immigration laws, adding that SB 4 supports racial profiling even though verbiage in the bill does not permit its use by law enforcement agencies.]

That is laughable. How else do you determine to ask someone for their papers other than their skin color, their accent, or their lack of ability to speak [English]. That, ladies and gentlemen, is racial profiling in its purest form…

Protesters demonstrate against SB 4 on Fourth of July

Protesters in Cedar Park, Texas, demonstrated against SB 4 during an Independence Day parade this week. One of the protesters, Maria Cabello, said that her group was there to remind people that “this state and this country needs immigrants.” She continued:

We are here on Fourth of July to claim it as dependence day. Because people are dependent on immigrants. That’s why we decided to disrupt 50 minutes of the parade because the lives of millions of immigrants — millions of families will be separated, millions of families are going to go through so much pain — starting Sept 1 [the day SB 4 is scheduled to begin being implemented].

You can watch a livestream of the protest here:

Read more about SB 4, Texas’ anti-immigrant law, here.