No, Texas did not pass a ‘show us your papers’ law
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There are many areas of law enforcement where state and local officers work arm in arm with federal officials to enhance the public safety and protect the homeland — securing our borders is not one of them.

America’s war on drugs and the decades-long battle against organized crime are two prime examples of local police and federal police working together to enhance public safety.

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When it comes to immigration enforcement, we are fighting to stop the influx of criminal aliens, illegal immigrants and would-be terrorists into the nation. Unfortunately, hundreds of communities across the nation have laws or regulations on the books that prohibit cooperation — or even information sharing — between local police and sheriffs and federal immigration enforcement agents. Known as sanctuary cities, these locales imperil public safety and directly violate federal law.

 

In Texas, a new law banning sanctuary cities will be a strong shot in the arm for public safety and the overall safety of the nation. Senate Bill 4 prohibits state and local entities from adopting, enforcing or endorsing policies that prohibit or materially limit the enforcement of immigration law in the Lone Star State. Unfortunately, since it was signed into law in early May, open border advocates have bent over backward to distort the bill and what it does — or doesn’t do — in every imaginable way. 

But banning sanctuary cities is good public policy:

The law prohibits sanctuary policies in the state, thus ensuring state and local police can communicate with federal immigration officials when the need arises. More importantly for many folks, it does not turn state and local police into immigration officials, but it does allow us to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officials when necessary. This bears repeating, “Texas peace officers are not immigration officers.” SB 4 does not create the ability of any licensed certified Texas peace officer to enforce immigration statutes.

SB 4 does require correctional facilities to comply with immigration detainers issued by federal immigration officials. Immigration detainers are requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain a criminal illegal alien for 48 hours until they can be handed over to federal officials for removal from the country. Anti-detainer policies, widespread under the Obama administration, resulted in tens of thousands of criminal illegal aliens released back onto the streets of our cities.  

A quick glimpse into the size of the problem is stunning. Prior to the passage of this ban on sanctuary cities, over a one-week period, a single Texas county (Travis) denied 142 requests to hold dangerous illegal aliens, who had committed serious crimes including sexual offenses against children, domestic violence and kidnapping.

SB 4 also puts some much-needed accountability into the system, by making any state criminal justice agency, county or municipality liable for damages resulting from an official’s refusal to comply with a detainer in the event that the criminal alien released commits a felony. The new law also creates much-needed civil penalties for public entities that violate the law’s anti-sanctuary provisions and could hold elected officials criminally liable for intentional violations of the bill.

Opponents of SB 4 call it the “show us your papers” law. In fact, no Texan is required to submit “papers” under this law. Local law-enforcement officers are not required to ask individuals about their immigration status. Nor are they required to notify federal immigration authorities about an individual — unless there’s a criminal investigation involving that person.

Texas is a border state and sits at the tip of the spear in fighting international drug trafficking enterprises that specialize in human misery and degradation. Texas is one of the nation’s most diverse states and SB 4 protects all the state’s residents against discrimination and ensures that law enforcement always acts within the boundaries of federal law — ensuring the law is always applied fairly and without prejudice.

As an elected Texas sheriff working along U.S. 59 — a superhighway of human trafficking into the U.S. — I can assure you that the size of the criminal alien problem in Texas is such that cooperation with the federal government is a necessity. As professional law enforcement officers, we should embrace this bill emphatically for clearing up an area of the law that better “protects the public.” 

In fact, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, more than 222,000 aliens have been booked into local Texas jails between June 1, 2011 and May 31, 2017. This has resulted in more than 266,000 convictions, including homicide, assault, sexual assault, kidnapping and theft. Of the convictions associated with criminal alien arrests, over 66 percent — or roughly two-thirds of those convicted — were in this country illegally.

Although the open borders lobby has drawn law enforcement into the fight, let’s defer to the law, and follow it. 

For the perspective of the average citizen, it will be business as usual here in Texas. The only real difference is that now Texas citizens are fully protected from an area of our law that has fallen prey to political ideology. Texas law enforcement no longer has our hands tied behind our backs when it comes to illegal immigration. Texans will be safer, and for that, we are thankful.

A.J. (Andy) Louderback is a four-term Sheriff in Jackson County, Texas. Louderback is the past president of the Sheriffs Association of Texas and current Legislative Director. 


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.