AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — American citizens and undocumented immigrants gathered outside the Governor’s Mansion Monday to kick off 100 days of resistance against Senate Bill 4, which would ban sanctuary cities across the state.
“We have message for Gov. Abbott — if you come for our families, we are going to come for you and vote you out of office,” said Margarita Arroyo, who lives in Austin and is the daughter of immigrants.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 4 into law last week but the fight to stop the legislation continues. The 100 days of action includes efforts to register Latinos to vote and protests in Austin and Dallas against Texas’ new sanctuary city ban.
“Which not only targets undocumented immigrants in our community but discriminates against Latinos. As a brown-skin woman I can be asked and harassed about my citizenship,” said Analicia Banales, a U.S. citizen and resident of Corpus Christi.
The Lubbock Republican who authored the bill, State Sen. Charles Perry, said police are not required to ask a person’s immigration status, but the new law makes it legal for them to do so in the course of an investigation.
State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, said SB 4 is about “law and order,” to offer consistency across the state and to stop local sanctuary city polices that he believes promote illegal immigration.
“We are a nation of immigrants but we want to make sure that those who are immigrating to the U.S. legally get their first place in line and we don’t want that to be undermined by illegal immigration,” Landgraf said.
The law also requires local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration detainers and local jails to hold alleged criminals in the U.S. illegally for possible deportation.
Dallas Democrat, State Rep. Rafael Anchia, said the law demonizes immigrants and all 40 percent of state’s population who identify as Latino.
“We are going to fight it in court, we are going to fight it with marches, and then we are going to fight it with our vote because this SB 4, this hateful and discriminatory bill is unacceptable,” Anchia said.
El Paso County Commissioners voted Monday to hire a law firm to lead legal action against the state over SB 4. Legal teams at non-profit organizations around the state are also preparing to fight the law in court.
In a written statement, a spokesman for the governor’s office said, “Texans of all walks of life, including Latinos, want the same thing as every other Texan – safety and security in their communities – and that’s what this bill does by keeping dangerous criminals off of our streets.”
The governor’s spokesman, John Wittman, continued, “If critics had a genuine interest in assuaging the concerns of citizens, they would resist the urge to resort to fear-mongering as it relates to Senate Bill 4.”
He also implied opponents are distorting the facts about the law to drum up concerns. The sanctuary city ban goes into effect Sept. 1, 2017.