The so called “Sanctuary Cities Bill” passed by the Texas House is at best ill-conceived and at worst racist. I join the other Texas bishops of the Texas Catholic Conference in registering my dismay at the action of the House and urging the Texas Senate to “affirm the dignity of all human life in our state and protect the safety of our communities.”
Under the provisions of the legislation, cities would be prohibited from instructing police officers not to check the immigration status of persons detained in a criminal investigation. Supporters of the bill claimed that cities with such practices are in effect “sanctuary cities” where illegal immigrants are protected.
Governor Perry “fast-tracked” the bill by giving it an emergency status and the House used a legislative maneuver to cut off debate. It now goes to the State Senate for consideration.
Fears are that the bill will in effect legalize profiling by making any Hispanic subject to being stopped and forced to show proof of American citizenship. In addition to the dehumanizing element the bill potentially diverts scarce resources from more serious criminal activity. It is opposed by many cities and law enforcement officials.
Texas and American bishops support immigration reform, but oppose enforcement of federal law by local and state law enforcement agencies. The bishops call for comprehensive immigration reform including a path to permanent residency and emphasis on family unity.
How short our memory is. The story of Texas is a history of immigration, much of it “illegal.” What we are experiencing today is not the Hispanization of Texas; it is the re-Hispanization. With over 37 percent of the population of Hispanic origin, according to the 2010 federal census, the future of Texas is obvious.
You cannot hold back the sunrise but you can keep your eyes closed.