NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A tough new bill targeting sanctuary cities is a step closer to becoming law.
Supporters claim Senate Bill 4 will make the state safer; but, critics call the proposal “state sponsored racial profiling.”
Local leaders in the Hispanic community say families are living in fear.
“They’re in panic mode,” says Hector Flores with the North Texas council of LULAC. “They’re very concerned what’s going to happen.”
In spite of protests and a marathon debate, lawmakers in the Texas House ultimately approved a version of the bill more harsh than even the Senate version. The bill would make it illegal for cities, counties or universities to prohibit police officers from questioning a person’s immigration status—even during routine traffic stops.
“Our worry is that people don’t feel comfortable reporting a crime to police,” says one undocumented immigrant in Dallas today.
Speaking to CBS 11 in Spanish, the man talked about the fear and worry. He says his family now spends more time at home. He fears both the police—and those who know that he fears the police.
“Even just regular grocery shopping or going to the mall,” says Flores, “they’re even afraid to go church. It’s gotten to that point.”
Flores believes that the Texas economy will take a hit if lawmakers continue to indulge in what he calls “anti-immigrant bigotry.” He says skilled workers are returning to Mexico and the area’s booming construction industry will soon feel the shortage of workers. But, that’s not all. Immigrants spend money, too.
“We are going out less. We are not spending money,” added the undocumented immigrant, “so the economy is suffering.”
The man and others defended the plight of the undocumented—pointing out that it is the low wage; but, often skilled workers who have built this country and whose presence have help the economy flourish.
Hispanic leaders also question how police will determine which brown skilled people should have their status questioned.
“I feel offended by that, I sure do,” added a woman named Maria. “Not all of us are from Mexico. I was born here.”
The sanctuary cities bill now heads to committee where lawmakers will hammer out differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill. Governor Greg Abbott has indicated that he will sign it when it arrives on his desk.