Texas backs tough 'sanctuary city' ban as federal push slows

The final reading for SB4 was one last chance for those who oppose it to have their say on the house floor.

"What we did yesterday broke a lot of hearts," said State Rep Roberto Alonzo D- Dallas.

SB4 was amended to allow local authorities to ask people who are pulled over during routine traffic stops about their citizenship. The change drafted by Rep. Matt Schaefer was labeled as a " Show me your papers" clause, which Thursday he denied. "Absolutely not, in fact the whole idea of pulling someone over to show me your papers when it comes to state law enforcement is against the law now, it will still be against the law if this bill passes," said the Republican from Tyler.

But opponents believe asking about citizenship, before a formal arrest, can lead to racial profiling.

"This is not to say that officers, we anticipate officers to start racially profiling and all of those kind of things but it opens the door to those kinds of thing and that is with the danger of this bill passes." Said Austin Democrat Eddie Rodriguez.

Schaefer doesn't believe his amendment gives a green light to racial profiling. "The idea that this gives any kind of authority to state or local law enforcement to begin stopping people for the purpose of showing their papers is absolutely false that's not what this bill is about."

At the core of SB4 is the crackdown on so called 'sanctuary city' policies.

It was made an emergency item by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to prohibit communities from passing rules that prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials.

During the heated debate, accusations were made that supporters of SB4 are motivated by racism. Dallas Republican Jason Villalba spoke out against that Wednesday. He didn't vote for the Schaefer amendment but Villalba said his support of SB4 has nothing to do with race.

"To suggest for a minute, a nano-second, that we are racist merely because we want to enforce existing laws, I think is disingenuous and in many instances hurtful," said Representative Villalba.

Villalba's comments could end up in a potential lawsuit.

Democratic caucus member, Rep. Poncho Nevarez  from Eagle Pass told FOX 7 part of their strategy during the debate was to gather things to be used in a future court challenge.

"It was done for the purposes of setting this thing up for where we know it needs to go which is the courthouse, cause we were not going to win the vote yesterday and unfortunately for the people came yesterday to voice their opposition to this and there were many hoping and praying for a miracle, those of us that are here know that wasn't going to happen,  but we are looking forward, looking at this and looking forward at next but I believe this to be true, is somewhere down the line what happen yesterday there's going to be a repercussion and there's going to be a reckoning what happened," said Rep. Nevarez.

The vote to move SB4 out of the house was 94 to 53.

The legislation now goes to the Senate, which has passed its own version, to consider. It's expected that a conference committee will be held to work out any differences before the bill is sent to the governor.
 

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