Governor Greg Abbott Bans Sanctuary Cities in Texas

Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 (SB4) on Sunday evening, which bans sanctuary cities in Texas.

The bill allows local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws. This gives the local police officers the authority to ask people about their immigration status during routine stops. Local governments can also be fined for not complying with the law and blocking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

The law goes into effect on Sept. 1.

Abbott gave a speech and signed the bill during a five-minute Facebook Live video on the “Office of the Governor Greg Abbott” Facebook page.

“Let’s be clear about something, we all support legal immigration,” Abbott said during the live stream. “It helped to build America and Texas. Texas strongly supports the legal immigration that has been a part of our state from our very beginning, but legal immigration is different from harboring people who have committed dangerous crimes.”

The issues of sanctuary cities and sanctuary campuses have sparked a lot of debate recently. University of North Texas Professor and Chair of Political Science Mathew Eshbaugh-Soha says it is a very polarizing topic because the U.S. has so many immigrants.

“I think the general point is that typically the United States is inclusive,” Eshbaugh-Soha said. “It is welcoming. This is the history when we talk about Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We talk about welcoming people and there’s no question that immigrants add so much value, not only economically, but culturally and other forms of diversity.”

Some people are saying this law is un-American because the U.S. is a land of immigrants. Others say that the law is justified due to the amount of crimes caused by illegal immigrants.

Marine Corp Reserve Trevor White says that America should always stand as a beacon of light for freedom but it must be achieved legally.

“There’s nothing un-American and unfair about that,” White said. “There’s atrocities in this world. They happen every single day. The sad part about it is we can’t do everything to fix it, but we have to look after our own. And I don’t think it’s selfish to say you value family more than you value [immigrants].”

UNT’s Hispanic Student Association, or HSA, fought hard to prevent SB4 from getting passed and they continue to fight for the rights of immigrants.

Teresa Aguayo was the president of HSA for a year and she just stepped down. She said SB4 has had a negative impact on the morale of the organization.

“I know a lot of our members are scared because some off them are DACA students and not only DACA, some of them don’t have DACA and they’re just undocumented,” Aguayo said. “So for a lot of them, it’s very scary because they don’t know what their future is going to consist of and they don’t know if they’re going to be here next year.”

DACA refers to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that allows some undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors to receive deferred removal action.

HSA Vice President Jennifer Zapata adds that members are in constant fear whether it is at school or at home.

“A lot of them have families who are undocumented,” Zapata said. “That comes from a fear of like having your parents deported or having an uncle deported or having some family members getting detained because of [SB4].”

Aguayo is also a part of the Sanctuary UNT Taskforce, which is a group that is fighting to make UNT a sanctuary campus. Aguayo said that the Sanctuary UNT Taskforce organized UNT’s largest walkout in regards to making UNT a sanctuary campus.

They’ve also organized several protests and participated in rallies across north Texas. They also created the online petition to make UNT a sanctuary campus.

“So in regards to UNT becoming a sanctuary taskforce, we met with the president of UNT a few weeks ago in regards to it becoming a sanctuary and he met 9 of our 10 demands,” Aguayo said. “The only demand he didn’t meet was allowing ICE to be on campus.”

With the new bill in place, it is unclear what UNT will do in regards to illegal immigrants and DACA students.

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