For many of those who waited for the hearing on SB4 to begin, Wednesday may very well be their last chance to have their say on the legislation. Their shouts of opposition echoed down the extension hallway and also from the east steps of the Texas capitol. Believing the legislation will break up families - organizers of this rally brought with them these two nine year olds. They've signed up to testify about their undocumented parents.
"We have worry that you do not understand if my mom is five minutes late parking picking me up from school I start worrying that she has been taken away,” said Wendy Membreno.
She and Sergio Govea were both born in the U.S.but said every day they live in fear of losing their parents to deportation.
"So we, just like, say goodbye to each other and hope for the best,” said Govea.
SB4 outlaws local communities from establishing sanctuary city type policies- it was fast tracked through the state Senate and this hearing is the last step before the measure will be debated on the house floor."
The hearing before members of house state affairs committee opened with supporters of SB4 claiming the legislation doesn't create a new immigration law. But while the purpose is to require local communities and law enforcement agencies to uphold rules that are already on the books there are new repercussions.
"If the University takes the position like I said before I want to be clear about this don't ask that's a violation,” asked Brownsville Democrat Rep. Rene Oliveria.
The answer to the question according to the Bill’s sponsor State rep. Charlie Geren ( R ) Fort Worth was the situation would be a violation which could result in a costly civil penalty.
that is a violation is correct. and what happens to that campus? the University could face a civil fine."
More than 500 people signed up to testify. Among those to speak was Catholic Bishop Joe Vásquez. The Bishop told lawmakers he is concerned about the “deep trauma" that can be caused to children who are separated from their parents. He urged for a compassionate approach when reforming immigration law.
A south Texas man -who only gave “Mike” as his first name defended his position supporting SB4 as he found himself surrounded and outnumbered.
"No I'm not anti-immigrant, I’m anti-illegal immigrant there's a difference there's a big difference."
The hearing is not expected to resolve the differences between those who support and oppose SB4 or change what's believe to be the eventual outcome - it's passage and signing into law by the governor.