North Texas Daily

The emotional passing of Senate Bill 4

The emotional passing of Senate Bill 4

The emotional passing of Senate Bill 4
May 02
21:45 2017

Senate Bill 4, a statewide sanctuary city ban, was passed through the Texas Senate in February. Last Thursday, the bill withstood a 16-hour debate and passed through the House on a 93-54 vote. This legislation, which sparked what is being called one of the most emotional political debates, ended around 3 a.m. that day.

The reason for such a debate comes from the language of the bill, which withholds money from sanctuary cities and makes it a criminal offense if police and government entities do not enforce immigration laws.

Moreover, the original script of the House was altered to sound more like the Senate version, where officials may ask for immigration status if someone is detained. Before, the House version only authorized questioning if the person was under lawful arrest. Many Democrats and several Republicans said they would vote against this provision proposed by Tyler Rep. Matt Schaefer, but sadly no compromise was made and the bill passed instead.

This bill is seen by many as a message to not only sweep illegal criminals off the streets, but to incriminate any vulnerable immigrant. The only win Democrats were able to get was an amendment allowing local entities to prohibit employees from helping immigration at places of worship. Otherwise, the bill makes homeless shelters, schools and every other public setting an ICE raid free-for-all.

Many Democrats did their best to appeal to fellow members by telling stories like Ana Hernandez’s. A Democrat from Houston, Hernandez tearfully recollected on growing up undocumented and relaying her family’s fears of running simple errands in public places.

Dallas Rep. Victoria Neave launched a four-day hunger strike in protest and spoke while holding a photo of her immigrant father last week. Houston Rep. Gene Wu cried during his speech last Wednesday about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the World War II internment camps of Japanese-Americans. Clint Rep. Mary González emotionally told her story as a sexual assault victim, claiming the most vulnerable immigrants of such assaults would be too scared to ask for help in fear of deportation.

González even went as far to say, “If you ever had any friendship with me, this is the vote that measures that friendship.” However, the Democrats’ efforts were not enough.

According to the Pew Research Center in 2016, Texas tied with New York for the second largest state immigration population. Its close proximity to the Mexico border has made it one of the most accessible thresholds for illegal immigrants. This isn’t a new concept, but with a fresh populist president and an uprising of a nationalist right, Texan Republicans were given a Trojan Horse to allow the action of this move. With their side winning in basically every form, they made a power move ignoring any truce between Texas’ large immigrant population and the U.S. government.

The bill is repulsive because it doesn’t attempt to hide its true intent or even strive for compromise. It will be used to display discrimination and outright racism when simply performing a traffic stop. Migrant workers who work some of our biggest labor jobs, like infrastructure and oil work, will essentially be told they are no good for us.

According to Politifact, the Mexican migration has stalled and Texas economy has slowed. Therefore, the bill seems to come at a time when the Texas legislature is seeing no further benefits from the undocumented workers and is only taking action since they are pretty much done with them.

The people who will hurt the most from this will be those searching for a better life. Efforts like Sanctuary UNT, which have protested for education rights without worries of thwarting, are potentially being silenced.

With bills like these, it is no wonder why our immigrants and minorities stay in vicious, dangerous cycles. Any attempt to do more calls on the government to punish them. They can’t live outside of these circles and taste the America everyone else can because of a system which constantly oppresses them. Yet the Texas Republicans, in the name of party unity, are too busy patting each other on the backs to lend anyone else a helping hand.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

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Tori Falcon

Tori Falcon

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