Last week, the Texas House of Representatives passed SB4 – a sweeping anti-immigrant bill that may be the most draconian state immigration bill we’ve ever seen. In an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News, Texas police chiefs David Pughes (Dallas) and Art Acevedo (Houston), with support from other Major Cities Chiefs in Texas, write in opposition to the bill, highlighting that the legislation will harm, not help, public safety in the state and strain the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they seek to protect. See key excerpts from the op-ed below:
Distrust and fear of contacting or assisting the police has already become evident among legal immigrants. Legal immigrants are beginning to avoid contact with the police for fear that they themselves or undocumented family members or friends may become subject to immigration enforcement.
Such a divide between the local police and immigrant groups will result in increased crime against immigrants and in the broader community, create a class of silent victims, and eliminate the potential for assistance from immigrants in solving crimes or preventing crime.
Don’t forget that if we don’t arrest criminals who victimize our immigrant communities, we allow them to remain free to victimize every one of us. When it comes to crime, we are in this together, regardless of race, sex, religion or nation of origin. SB 4 will make our communities more dangerous, not safer, as we presume the legislature intended.
Chiefs Pughes and Acevedo emphasize that the enforcement of federal immigration laws has no place in local policing and write that vital resources must be used to track down real criminals:
At a time of strained law enforcement budgets and critically low jail space, narrowing the focus to violent criminals, human traffickers, and members of organized crime syndicates is critical.
Chiefs Pughes and Acevedo also call the bill “political pandering” that will only breed danger for everyone. In closing, they request that the Texas Legislature reverse this legislation for the wellbeing of all Texans:
We respectfully request that the members of the Texas Legislature withdraw the amendments to SB 4 passed by the Texas House of Representatives. This legislation is bad for Texas and will make our communities more dangerous for all.
To read their op-ed in its entirety, click here.