Texas New Sanctuary City Law.
Unfortunatly, there is a lot of bad information floating around about the new Texas sanctuary city law. It is unfortunate because when politicians and advocacy groups dispense misinformation about immigration law to scare people, they actually empower abusers who commit family and sexual violence. That is because abusers can control their victims by giving them false information about what will happen to them if they report.
This post tries to dispell some of the worst of the fake news.
Does the new law grant police officers the right to stop and ask for “papers”?
No. The new law does not grant police officers any new powers to ask for identification. The law prohibits officers from asking victims or witnesses of crimes about their immigration status with a few exceptions.
- The law does not prohibit police officers from asking about your immigration status if it is relevant to the crime. For example, an officer may ask the nationality of a victim of human trafficking.
- The law does not prohibit police officers from talking to you about your immigration status if cooperating with the police could help you. For example, cooperation could make you eligible to obtain certain federal visas.
- The law does not prohibit officers from asking about your immigration status if he has probable cause that you also committed a criminal offense.
If any other law or local policy prohibits officers from talking to you about your immigration status, that will not change. In other words, the law adds prohibitions, it does not take any away or grant police officers any new rights.
Does the new law make government officers comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?
Yes. The new law requires government officers to comply with Immigratios and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This includes prohibiting agencies from enacting policies designed to thwart ICE officers from performing their duties. For example, an agency cannot have a policy to deny entry of immigration officers into jails. The new law also requires government officers to honor detainer requests unless the person detained has proof of citizenship – such as a Texas driver’s license.
Does the new law allow local governments to inform me of my rights as an immigrant?
Yes. The new law specifically authorizes agencies to have written community outreach policies. These policies can, among other things, inform immigrants that a police officer is not allowed to ask them about their immigration status when they are victims or witnesses of crimes. Specifically, the statute requires community outreach policies to include outreach to domestic violence and sexual violence victims. This is important because victims of domestic and sexual violence are often misled by perpetrators into believing they will be deported if they report their abusers.
What should I do?
You should contact an immigration attorney to determine whether you are eligible to change your status. Otherwise, just don’t break the law. The current government’s main priority for immigration enforcement is still against those who have committed crimes.