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Texas Senate Republicans pass 'sanctuary city' bill

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Texas Senate Republicans pass 'sanctuary city' bill

By GARY SCHARRER

AUSTIN BUREAU

June 15, 2011, 12:47AM

AUSTIN — Senate Republicans finally passed a priority issue for their party early Wednesday morning when they outmuscled their Democratic colleagues on an immigration-related bill intended to make it easier for law enforcement to corral illegal immigrants.

At its core, SB 9 allows law enforcement officers to ask someone about their immigration status after they are detained and also establishes uniform statewide standards. It also would ban local governments from enacting a policy prohibiting the enforcement of state or federal immigration laws.

But critics say it will invariably result in racial profiling and make it less likely for immigrants to report crime because the legislation also allows police to question witnesses in the course of an investigation. Police chiefs in each of the state’s largest cities oppose the legislation.

Democrats contend the bill is the "largest assault against Latinos" in recent decades and could help inspire Hispanics to vote in next year’s election.

The legislation — and nine of 11 amendments — broke along party lines. The Senate has 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats.

"It has been a contentious debate at times between Democrats and Republicans, but this bill is not about political party. Nor is it about race or hate or fear mongering," said Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, author of the bill, which will move soon to the state House for debate.

Democrats warned of dire consequences.

"It's our moral duty to stand up against discrimination," Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said. "We are fixing to impact every Hispanic citizen in the state of Texas — documented and undocumented."

Anglos will not be asked about their citizenship, Whitmire said in an emotional speech before the vote. He asked his seven Hispanic colleagues to rise.

"This legislation will force them to prove their citizenship (if pulled over for a traffic violation)," Whitmire said. "This is a sad day."

Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, recalled his days as a U.S. Marine when he was called a "wetback" and given the name "Charlie" because Spanish was forbidden in school.

"This bill is hurtful. It's ignorant, and it's offensvie," Uresti said, asking colleagues to pray before they vote.

"Ask what Jesus would do?" he said.

Most of the criticisms don’t make sense, Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, countered.

"This bill doesn't do what its opponents accuse it of doing," he said.

The federal government's inability to address immigration-related problems forces states to act, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said.

"If the states stand up and speak out, then maybe the federal government will finally act," Patrick said. "To not pass this legislation would be to throw up our hands and do nothing."

Immigration-related issues have been hot-button issues for Texas GOP primaries in recent years and also have been on the minds of many other Texans.

But a new Texas Lyceum poll released Tuesday shows concerns about education have shoved immigration aside as an important issue.

Immigration topped the group’s annual Texas survey in 2010 and 2008. But education now is the major issue for 33 percent of "likely voter" Texans while immigration has dropped down to 11 percent, according to the poll for The Texas Lyceum, a non-profit group designed to develop leadership skills.

The bill allowing police officers to question witnesses about their immigration status will keep people from reporting crime or getting involved, Democrats warned.

Word will spread throughout immigrant communities to keep their eyes and mouths shut — and to never call the police, they said.

"Victims of crime or witnesses to crime will not call," Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, said.

Williams, however, said he did not share the concern, adding that various interest groups "ginned up" the political rhetoric surrounding the immigration issue.

Davis suggested a provision in the bill will trigger a torrent of citizen complaints against cities who they believe are not aggressive enough in questioning people about their citizenship.

"Any citizen can file a complaint with the attorney general if they can allege that the police department is making a habit of not seeking the immigration status of people who are witnesses to crime," she said.

Such a complaint will obligate the state attorney general to investigate, Williams acknowledged.

But he emphasized that nothing in the proposed law requires police officers to ask people about their immigration status.

"It would only give him or her discretion," Williams said. "Why would we not want to give them that discretion?"

Party line votes kept several Democratic amendments from trying to soften the legislation. One would have exempted children from being questioned about their immigration status if they are a crime victim or witness.

Another would have exempted more than 2,200 special government districts, such as airports, libraries, river authorities, water, irrigation, public health and housing authorities. Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, tried to remove those special governmental units because of the training costs and liability issues.

Gov. Rick Perry declared the so-called "sanctuary cities" bill an emergency issue earlier this year but Senate Democrats blocked the legislation from debate. The governor put the issue on the agenda for the special session, which he called immediately after the regular session ended last month.

Williams acknowledged there "are honest disagreements" about the bill when Whitmire emphasized that opposition from the police chiefs should make lawmakers pay attention.

"Politically, it is a very highly charged issue," Williams said, adding that police chiefs are simply responding to the political pressures from mayors and city council members.

Uresti noted the lack of criminal sanctions if a rogue officer engages in racial profiling.

Police departments can determine appropriate "corrective actions" if an officer crosses the line, Williams said.

Allowing police departments to pursue independent policies for reprimanding rogue officers undermines the bill’s goal of establishing statewide uniformity, Uresti told Williams.

Democrats also complained about the cost of training needed before the bill takes effect — 91 days after the special legislative session ends. Cities and counties say they will bear significant costs.

But Williams said he’s not concerned "because I don’t believe it will."

He blamed the federal government for not securing the nation’s southern border with Mexico and expressed fear about increasing drug cartel violence, drug smuggling and human trafficking.

"It’s real and it’s at our door step," he said.

Taking proactive steps, Williams said, will "send a loud and clear message to criminal illegal aliens that we will not tolerate their presence in Texas."

The governor has been saying the same things.

But a border congressman recently rebuked Perry.

"While Governor Perry falsely claims that 'drug cartels have operational control of a substantial amount' of the border to incite fear, new data released by the FBI this week confirm that border cities remain among the safest places to live in the United States," U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes of El Paso said two weeks ago.

"In fact, Austin, Texas, where Governor Perry resides in his $10,000-a-month rental mansion at taxpayer expense, reported a 72 percent increase in homicides in 2010," Reyes, a former Border Patrol chief, said. "The city of Austin had more homicides last year than El Paso, Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville combined.

"All Texans should resoundly reject the Governor's fear-mongering rhetoric that harms our state's image and our ability to attract tourism and commerce to the border region. The Governor should help create jobs in the region, not scare them away as part of his self-interested quest to bolster his national image," Reyes said.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7611167.html


"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave."

"...for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."

US Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-TX)

Testimony to the House Immigration Subcommittee, February 24, 1995

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"I want to take this opportunity to mention how thankful I am for an Obama re-election. The choice was clear. We cannot live in a country that treats homosexuals and women as second class citizens. Homosexuals deserve all of the rights and benefits of marriage that heterosexuals receive. Women deserve to be treated with respect and their salaries should not depend on their gender, but their quality of work. I am also thankful that the great, progressive state of California once again voted for the correct President. America is moving forward, and the direction is a positive one."

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Ecuador
Timeline

Until the Fourth & Fifth Amendments become pure inkblots, one solution to being questioned is to say, "Officer, if you intend to question me, I wish to have the benefit of legal counsel. Am I free to go, please?"


06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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Filed: Country: Belarus
Timeline

Until the Fourth & Fifth Amendments become pure inkblots, one solution to being questioned is to say, "Officer, if you intend to question me, I wish to have the benefit of legal counsel. Am I free to go, please?"

As you probably already know, at one time the clowns running the city of Houston specifically prohibited the police from questioning the status of obvious illegal aliens and as a result illegal aliens that repeatedly committed crimes were cut loose on the streets to do more of the same. The citizens of Houston finally got disgusted enough to force Mayor White to rescind his sanctuary policies protecting his undocumented Democrats and employees of the powerful businesses that shovel plenty of campaign cash his way. His track record is probably a good reason White lost his bid to be governor.

Left leaning cities like Austin continue to protect illegal aliens and refuse to cooperate with federal authorities to control illegal aliens flocking to those communities for a multitude of reasons.

This bill is not about making street sweeps or kicking down doors to arrest illegal aliens. It is about city governments and politicians that routinely protect, aid, and give assistance to illegal aliens for their own political gain.


"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave."

"...for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."

US Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-TX)

Testimony to the House Immigration Subcommittee, February 24, 1995

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