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Law Enforcement Leaders Discuss Anti-Sanctuary City Law

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MCALLEN – The Hidalgo County sheriff and other Rio Grande Valley law enforcement leaders held a press conference about a new law that requires cities and law enforcement to help enforce federal immigration laws.

Authorities expressed their concerns about Senate Bill 4. They wanted to reassure the public they will continue to operate as usual.

“(Senate Bill 4) has not changed our fundamental desire or the desire of our law enforcement officers to protect and serve the respective communities regardless of a person’s nationality or immigration status,” Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said.

Guerra said they do not enforce immigration law or grant deportation. He pointed out if the person has not committed a crime or not subject to an ICE detainer, they shouldn’t be worried.

Guerra said some authority leaders do have concerns and will go over the bill with their deputies and police officers.

“We’re going to have to train them and basically tell them to keep doing exactly what you’re doing,” he said.

The sanctuary city bill allows all local law enforcement to inquire about a person’s nationality and immigration status. According to the bill, it doesn’t require an officer to ask for documents only if there is probable cause to do so.

The law enforcement officers encourage the community, no matter their status, to report crime.

Guerra said if someone is a witness or victim of a crime and is in the country illegally, they may ask for the person’s immigration status. However, they will work with them and try to keep them in the country with what’s called a U visa.

Authorities also pointed out officers will face consequences if they are found discriminating against any persons.

“Senate Bill 4 also addresses and prohibits discrimination against any person. And I also want to make it clear that any law enforcement officer, regardless of the agency that they work for, who is found to be discriminating against persons based on their nationality or race will face serious consequences,” Guerra said.

The law goes into effect in September and could cut state grant funds to any city or law enforcement agency, which refuses to comply with the law.

Under the new law, sheriff's deputies, constables, police chiefs and other local leaders can face Class A misdemeanor charges if they don't cooperate with federal authorities. The same will apply if they do not honor detainer requests from immigration agents.

The law effectively bans sanctuary cities in Texas. There are no sanctuary cities in the Rio Grande Valley.

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