FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth voted not to join the lawsuit against SB4, the so-called ‘show me your papers’ law, making Fort Worth the only major city in Texas not to sue the state over the immigration law.
After nearly five hours of public comment on SB4, the City of Fort Worth voted to stay out of the legal battle.
Tuesday night, Fort Worth’s city council heard from nearly 300 residents for hours, most of them urging the city to join a lawsuit with other Texas cities to have the law thrown out. Only 10-15 residents spoke in support of SB4. They, too, begged city council to back “rule of the law” in the United States.
With his once undocumented parents by his side, Fort Worth resident Daniel Garcia Rodriguez went before Fort Worth’s leaders, urging them to join the legal battle against SB4. “Just like Dallas, just like Houston, just like San Antonio have stood up for families like my parents, parents who have come to this country and fight to succeed and to prosper and to give me a chance to be here speaking before you,” said Garcia Rodriguez.
The Texas law, which goes into effect Sept. 1, allows local law enforcement to ask people who they come into contact with about their immigration status. Many believe that this will lead to police profiling of Hispanics, both immigrants and U.S. citizens.
The sheriff in Tarrant County supports SB4 and pushed back against criticism that it will lead to racial profiling. “We are not going to racially profile nor will that be tolerated,” said Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn. “That’s what I’ll reemphasize. That’s not happening now, nor will it happen after Sept. 1. It will be business as usual.”
The Fort Worth’s police department has previously said it doesn’t support SB4, but Tuesday the police chief said it won’t have the choice but to enforce it come Sept 1. He tried to reassure Fort Worth’s Hispanic community. “Our mission is to protect each and every resident in this city, whether you’re a citizen or not,” said Chief Joel Fitzgerald.
Despite police opposition to SB4, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price joined four city councilmen in voting “no” to the lawsuit. Councilmen Brian Byrd, Cary Moon, Jungus Jordan and Dennis Shingleton voted to not to sue. Lead by Councilman Carlos Flores, Kelly Allen Gray, Ann Zadeh and Gyna Bivens urged Fort Worth to add its name to the same lawsuit with the cities of Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Travis and El Paso Counties and the City of El Cenizo, the first to take its concerns to court.
Even if Fort Worth doesn’t join the lawsuit against SB4, the legal battle will continue, lead by other Texas cities.