As APD reviews new immigration law, San Antonio changes policy

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus (Courtesy: City of San Antonio)
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus (Courtesy: City of San Antonio)

AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) — San Antonio’s police chief says the department will abandon a policy prohibiting officers in the nation’s seventh-largest city from asking about a person’s immigration status due to Texas’ new law banning so-called sanctuary cities.

Chief William McManus on Monday ripped Republican lawmakers over the law signed Sunday night, which opponents say is the nation’s most anti-immigrant law since an Arizona crackdown in 2010.

Texas’ law takes effect in September and will allow police officers to ask about a person’s immigration status during routine stops. McManus says that could include people even stopped for jaywalking.

He says a written department policy prohibiting questions about immigration status was added several years ago following community meetings.

Austin’s Chief of Police Brian Manley says his department’s legal advisers are currently reviewing the language of SB 4. “We will have a better understanding of the impact to our operations and any necessary changes to policy or procedure once this review has been completed,” said Manley in a statement on Monday. “The Austin Police Department has worked hard to build and maintain trust, communication and stronger relationships with our communities through outreach programs and community policing. This effort and engagement will continue. With the passage of this law, we want our minority community to maintain their trust in us, if you see or are a victim of a criminal act we want you to call us and report it.”

Abbott says the law will help fulfill a duty to keep “dangerous criminals off our streets.” Critics say it will lead to Hispanics being racially profiled.

Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez says she will follow the law even though she says she is “disappointed, because this is not in the best interest of public safety.”