by Claudia Castillo – Research Coordinator
This blog is a personal response to Texas Senate Bill 4. “With SB 4, Texas Republicans have cemented their reputation among generations of young Latinos and people of color to come,” Sheridan Aguirre, a member of the immigrant youth network United We Dream, said in a written statement. I implore Texas residents to act, sign a petition, call or write the Governor, and vote when the time comes.
Warning, this is personal. I drove back from my native state of Texas yesterday – reveling on how many hours it takes to exit Texas compared to the quick jaunt through New Mexico and Colorado to get home. I stopped throughout various towns along the way to fuel up and to take in the atmosphere of Texas, a state that I truly love. Though I am a first-generation Texan, I am a Texan through and through and you will find that in most people who are born in Texas. I miss Texas, I miss the people, I miss the food, I miss my family and I dearly miss my friends. But even within the fact that I am a native-born Texan – I preferred to say that I am Tejana. I unconsciously differentiated myself from the larger culture because I knew I was different.
On 7 May, when Governor Greb Abbott, signed the TX sanctuary city ban into law live on facebook, it affirmed my suspicion that I was and will always be different. I fall into the category of people that this sanctuary city ban effects – emotionally and physically. It reminds me of the immigration raids I witnessed and those that my parents told me about. It reminds me of the fear that I lived through. It reminds me that Texas has always wanted cheap labor, labor it could grind and spit up, labor that did not have the protections to stand up for themselves but it didn’t want them living among the “real’ Texans. How do you reconcile that the state you love, doesn’t want you?
What does Senate Bill 4 entail?
The law will ban cities, counties and universities from prohibiting their local law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status and enforcing immigration law. It will create a criminal charge for police chiefs, county sheriffs and constables who violate the ban and will charge local jurisdictions up to $25,000 for each day they are in violation.
The law will also allow police officers to ask about a person’s immigration status during any legal detention, which could include a routine traffic stop. Opponents have likened the law to Arizona’s “papers, please” legislation, parts of which were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. (James Barragan)
Senate Bill 4 is a tool for the state of Texas to deport or remove all undocumented migrants that Law Enforcement encounters, a victim, a witness or a perpetrator – it is fast, it is quick and it shows they are doing something about the issue. It is easy, a little too easy. What worries me is the lack of recognition that this is a complex issue and one that involves human lives– not a single politician that is advocating for the eradication of “sanctuary cities” seem to take the time to understand the problem and the historical policies of the US that contributed to the creation of this issue. I want Texas to admit how it has been complicit in creating the large population of undocumented migrants. I want Texas to accept its responsibility and develop an educated immigration way-ahead. Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick, can you use both empathy and the law, to construct the best course of action for this issue? I think so. Imagine that, a human rights based approach to immigration law.
It is a complex issue because people’s lives are at stake and though deportation/removal from the United States is not deemed a criminal punishment in our judicial system – for me, it is a grave punishment for someone who has established a family and life in the US barring criminal activities that may preclude them from staying in the country. Even though some of the criminal activities barring undocumented migrants from staying in the country are constructed to ensure they are deported/removed. I read through some of the comments posted on the FB live feed which accused Governor Abbott of not having a heart and others filled with much the same sentiment. Though I have tried, I cannot remove emotion from this issue and others cannot seem to find emotion/empathy when addressing this issue. Evident when others wrote comments that all damn Mexicans should be sent back.
You have given the green light to racially profile and potentially abuse those believed to be undocumented migrants. With such a polarizing issue in the state of Texas, Governor Abbott what will you do to unify the state besides suing the city of Austin in a preemptive strike against those that will challenge SB4?