Austin – Senator José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, released the following statement regarding SB 4, which coerces local police to carry out federal immigration law:
SB 4 is an attack on Hispanics and the immigrant community. In a sad irony, a bill purportedly about public safety and the rule of law makes us less safe and erodes confidence in the justice system by disregarding constitutional due process protections and separation of powers.
Some facts about SB 4:
It was made clear when the bill passed the Senate, and again made clear in debate today in the House, that there are significant legal issues with SB 4.
- El Paso County is under a settlement entered in federal court in 2006 that prohibits the county from enforcing civil immigration law. The settlement resulted from traffic checkpoints set up by the El Paso Sheriff’s Department in which it was alleged deputies conducted unlawful searches, seizures and detentions. Should SB 4 become law in its current form, it’s virtually certain to result in a costly lawsuit for El Paso County, which must choose between a federal settlement agreement and compliance with this new state law.
- Texas cannot eliminate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure:
o An ICE request to county jails to detain a person must be based on probable cause that the person is violating immigration law.
o But these detainers are not issued by an independent judge who reviews them for probable cause. They are issued by immigration officers.
o Federal courts in other jurisdictions have already held that a county’s compliance with voluntary immigration detainers violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
- SB4 coerces local governments:
o Creates a separate criminal offense under state law for failure to comply with the bill, making local officials personally liable for performance of each and every law officer working in their jurisdiction.
o Subjects local entities to Attorney General lawsuits originating from public complaints that may have no merit, eroding community relations and creating unnecessary expense.
o Singles out the enforcement authority of University Campus police to target students that may be DREAMers or DACA recipients.