A day of high emotions at the Texas Capitol Thursday–where a bill calling for a ban on so-called “sanctuary cities” in the Lone Star State took center stage at a Senate State Affairs Committee hearing.
“You’re going to run out of warnings” Committee Chair Joan Huffman told the large crowd in the gallery after protesters interrupted the proceedings several times–the first during opening statements being delivered by Senator Charles Perry, who is the author of the bill.
“There’s not a member in this Chamber on either side… House or Senate… that does not believe in opportunity for all” Perry said, continuing to insist his bill is about making sure laws that are on the books are enforced evenly, and should not be seen as some sort of a crackdown on immigrants.
Others have their doubts though.
“We risk perpetrating far more dangerous criminal behaviors” Senator Eddie Lucio said, voicing is displeasure with the proposal.
San Antonio Senator Jose Menendez is another critic of the bill. He said it’s simply not needed.
“This year, Texas will celebrate 172 years of being in the Union–and, we’ve done well without this bill” Menendez said.
Among the hundreds of people who signed up to testify was San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, who expressed his opposition.
“I’m concerned that the bill would take away from the discretion of local police chiefs” McManus said, also fearing the impact the measure might have on community-police relations.
“The trust San Antonio has built up with the whole community is integral to our ability to investigate, prevent, and solve crime” McManus said.
The Chief also said the bill–if passed and signed in to law–will have a major impact on SAPD as well.
“It would take us at least a year to train our officers… the whole Department in federal immigration law” McManus said, answering a question posed by Senator Jose Rodriguez.
When asked about the cost of it all–the Chief didn’t have a specific number for Rodriguez–but said “It wouldn’t be cheap.”