Texas’s new anti-sanctuary city law, commonly known as SB4, has been a much discussed topic over the past few months. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo recently criticized aspects of the law, which requires police officers to question detainees of their immigration status:
Referencing last week’s mass shooting tragedy in Las Vegas, Acevedo said, “it is so counter-intuitive, counterproductive. When you have millions of victims and witnesses of crime that you’re pushing back into the shadows, people who might know about a guy who’s going crazy and might shoot up 20,000 concertgoers, and they’re afraid to come forward. How is that a public safety measure? It’s a real problem.”
Acevedo’s remarks raise a valid point: is SB4 productive and logical in terms of public safety and general stability? Are crises like the Vegas shooting being enabled via the alienation of potential witnesses? The fact of the matter is that, like Acevedo observes, “ a significant segment of society (is) afraid to come forward and stand up for their neighbor or themselves because they are afraid they’ll be deported.”
This notion poses a major problem as the need for heightened awareness to criminal activity rises. Instead of pigeonholing the immigrant and so-called Dreamer population, we must enrich and encourage it to trust law enforcement officials, to stop “hiding in the shadows” in fear of deportation, and to exhibit confidence in reporting suspicious or illegal activity like any other facet of our society — it is their constitutional right to do so. Sanctuary Cities are a testament to this enrichment, and ill-advised laws like SB4 are hardly a wise interpretation of US immigration reform in this regard.
Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are already in a state of flux as President Trump works to phase out the program, which was put in place during the Obama Administration. The Trump Administration’s neo-isolationist agenda is jeopardizing the lives of innocent American citizens at the expense of the insecurity and xenophobia we continue to project on the Dreamer population. SB4 is a microcosm of this notion, and Acevedo is correct in his claims that many aspects of the law are both counterproductive and counterintuitive.