In the wake of a headline-making scuffle between legislators, the whole nation has learned about “SB4,” the Texas legislation targeting “sanctuary cities.” But the Texas Catholic Conference and the Texas AFL-CIO have been fighting the proposal for months. SB4 would prohibit “sanctuary” policies adopted by police departments in cities across the Lone Star State to win trust and cooperation in immigrant communities. They assured even the undocumented that the police were there to fight crime, not enforce federal immigration laws.
Both the Church and the labor movement vocally opposed SB4. Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin testified that
We reject the premise that persons who are merely suspected of being undocumented immigrants should be rounded up by state and local police agents…. The overwhelming majority of immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, are not criminals. They simply need a job or need to flee from desperate situations. God has brought them before us – perhaps not in the way that you or I would have preferred for them to be brought before us – but they are before us now and we need to care for them.
Many legislators, however, remained unmoved. The bill passed, and on May 7 Governor Greg Abbot signed SB4 into law. Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick (a Catholic Labor Network member) explained why the measure was a mistake in a statement posted on the national AFL-CIO blog:
S.B. 4 is a direct attack on Texas values and hardworking Texas families. Approval of this harsh, “show me your papers”-style bill that drafts local criminal justice officials into becoming an arm of the federal immigration system marks one of the saddest days I have ever spent around the Texas Legislature….
Gov. Abbott’s signing of S.B. 4 sent a larger message that Texas is OK with discrimination against immigrant families on the streets across our state. That message is dangerous and is drawing national attention. S.B. 4 is bad for working people, bad for business and bad for Texas.
We believe there is broad consensus that the U.S. immigration system is broken. But S.B. 4 will simply increase discrimination and hardship rather than point toward comprehensive immigration reform.
For President Patrick’s statement in its entirety, CLICK HERE.