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Since President Trump’s inauguration, we’ve seen a slew of anti-immigrant legislation proposed on both the local and national level. Earlier this month, the Texas legislature passed the SB4 law, the virulently anti-civil rights, anti-immigrant, and anti-public safety legislation that includes a provision similar to Arizona’s infamous ‘show me your papers’ law, which takes the cake for the worst of its kind.
In a new, must read op-ed for the New York Times, Austin City Council member Greg Casar, who was arrested during a sit-in to protest the legislation, amplifies the boisterous, nationwide opposition to TX SB4, explaining that:
…The assaults on our community that this law encourages are unacceptable. That’s why, alongside clergy members and community leaders, I participated in last week’s sit-in to send a message to Mr. Abbott.
I’m the son of immigrants, and I represent a district where more than one-third of residents are not citizens. I’ve seen firsthand the terror that this type of anti-immigrant legislation will cause in communities like mine.
During one of the immigration raids that took place in Austin this year, I sat in the living room of a constituent, an undocumented immigrant, talking to her young children. That day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers had knocked on their door. The children were confused and fearful that they were going to lose their parent. The trauma of that day will stay with them.
As a consequence of Senate Bill 4, I fear that many children in our community will to experience this terror every time they see an Austin police officer. This is wrong. We fund our police to protect us from danger and defend our rights, not to tear apart families.
Make no mistake: Senate Bill 4 does not advance public safety. That’s why police chiefs from major cities in Texas, including Austin, oppose the law, saying it would drive a wedge between police officers and the communities they serve. The Houston police chief has reported a significant drop in the reporting of crime by the Latino community, and he attributes it to the fear generated by this kind of policy. Since the immigration raids in Austin this year, the city’s provider of sexual assault forensic exams has reported an 80 percent increase in sexual assault victims who weren’t willing to report their assaults to police.”
As Council member Casar explains, this legislation is “bigger than Texas…The racism and fear that play such outsize roles in support for this type of legislation, and in contemporary politics more broadly, must be confronted head-on.”
As Texas battles SB4 locally, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to markup several national anti-immigrant bills intended to further fund, fuel, and staff Trump’s Mass Deportation Force. The so-called Davis-Oliver Act, included in today’s markup, would nationalize the SB4 law – requiring local law enforcement agents across the nation to shrug their duties in favor of immigration enforcement.
In a joint op-ed for The Hill, two Texas sheriffs, Edward Gonzalez of Harris County and Lupe Valdez of Dallas County, overview the public safety consequences if this legislation is enacted:
…Going after hardworking immigrants has adverse effects that go beyond straining our budgets and manpower.
We are among many police chiefs and sheriffs around the country whose departments have spent years developing relationships of trust with our immigrant communities. We need everyone in the community, no matter where they were born, to feel comfortable calling on first responders in an emergency, including when they are a victim or witness of crime.
To put it simply, fears that law enforcement and immigration enforcement are one and the same have a chilling effect on reports of crime among minority communities. Already this year, the police chiefs in Houston and Los Angeles have said that members of the Hispanic community are calling in fewer reports of rapes, even though reports otherwise have not decreased.
The new bill would exacerbate this very real concern. None of us wants rapists or other criminals to get away with crime. Discouraging victims and witnesses of crime from coming forward makes our jobs harder and does not make you safer.
The Trump Administration and the GOP’s propaganda campaign that these bills will make America safe again is simply one more lie to be added to a long list. As Trump and his henchmen continue to attack American values with hate-fueled legislation and executive orders, they should be prepared for Americans to stand unified in their defense of American values.