Business and faith leaders circle the wagons ahead of sanctuary cities hearing

This story was originally published on the Quorum Report.

A ban on so-called “sanctuary cities” will be up for a hearing on Monday after it was delayed a week by a procedural move by Democrats. That time has given Democrats and some Republicans in the business community time to organize after they felt ambushed by the late announcement of the planned hearing. The immigration bill would ban local law enforcement from preventing their officers from enforcing federal immigration laws.

Senate Bill 185, filed by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, was filed last November. It is identical to one filed the prior session and supported by then-Gov. Rick Perry, who is not related to Sen. Perry.

The bill was tagged last week, a move that was made possible because of the short notice given. On Facebook, Perry called the actions political posturing that inconvenienced those who came to testify before the subcommittee.

“Our bill is simple,” Perry wrote. “Cities cannot pick and choose the laws they want to enforce; public safety, not political correctness should be the priority. I look forward to working with my fellow legislators to pass this bill and place this crucial legislation on the Governor's desk by the end of Session.”

Perry posted a video of a father who lost his son in a shooting. Dan Golvach said his son Spencer was shot to death at a traffic light when an undocumented immigrant with a long criminal history chose Spencer “for target practice.”

A number of Texas police chiefs testified last session they had no interest in enforcing immigration laws, which are under the purview of the federal government. Houston, for example, has a decades-old standing order that says officers are not to inquire about immigration status when they encounter people on the street.

Big business leaders oppose the bill. The Texas Association of Business plans to testify against it, said the group’s CEO Bill Hammond.

Norman Adams, a Houston insurance agent who represents employers in his role with Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy, said that "it has clearly established in two previous sessions that Texas has no 'sanctuary cities.'" He noted that "police chiefs and sheriffs across Texas oppose this bill. They believe it will encourage abusive profiling and will hurt, not help, law enforcement in the Hispanic neighborhoods."

Adams also said the bill would create unfunded mandates including more police officer hours on the street, more training for local law enforcement, and more non-violent people in local jails at a cost of at least $70 per day.

The worst part of the bill, Adams argued, is that it requires the Attorney General to review each complaint and file a petition. "Can you even imagine the red tape and wasted time and expense? Neither the AG nor local law enforcement agencies can afford this nightmare," he said.

Texas Impact, an interfaith group, opposes the bill and will testify on Monday morning as well. An action alert went out to members earlier this week. Executive Director Bee Moorhead quoted a pastor who testified against the bill in 2011. "There is no wiggle room in the Bible when it comes to hospitality or welcoming the stranger, so I know you aren't considering this legislation as the answer to 'What would Jesus Do?'" Moorhead said.

The faith community has argued that sanctuary city policies hinder the police because it stops immigrants from reporting crimes, Moorhead said. A state directive ties the hands of police chiefs to set their own priorities with personnel. And immigration is a civil violation enforced by the federal government, not a criminal violation enforced by local city and county law enforcement.

Moorhead said Texas Impact does support House Bill 154, filed by Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas. The bill would give immunity to victims and witnesses to report crime, Moorhead said. The language of the bill allows officers to ask for immigration status if it has relevance to the committed crime. According to the bill, the officer can ask about immigration status if the victim or witness is the subject of a separate criminal offense.

Copyright March 13, 2015, Harvey Kronberg,, All rights are reserved. Reprinted with permission.


© 2015 TexasGOPVote  | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy