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Immigrant Advocates, Texas Legislators Rally Against 'Sanctuary Cities' Law

Immigrant rights advocates and state lawmakers rallied at the Texas Capitol on Monday to protest Senate Bill 4, the state’s so-called sanctuary cities law. Among other things, the law allows local law enforcement to ask the immigration status of people they detain or arrest.

Two Democratic politicians, San Antonio Senator José Menéndez and House Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas, said they’ve filed bills this legislative session that would repeal the law.

The lawmakers said SB4 is discriminatory and puts a target on the back of people of color.

“This is sold to us as a bill of goods that’s about law and order,” Menéndez said. “It’s not. It’s about oppression. It’s about racism. It’s about discrimination.”

They were also concerned that it discourages some Texans from calling law enforcement when they need help.

“We’re already seeing examples of how families are being adversely impacted and living in fear,” Anchia said.

The lawmaker pointed to data that showed the underreporting of incidents of domestic violence and abuse amongst women who are immigrants or who have family members who are immigrants. That’s one of the main points of contention among immigrant activist.

Daniela Melendez, a member of United We Dream Texas, which advocates for immigrant youth, said she traveled from Houston to attend the rally in order to support immigrants who are too afraid to call local authorities when they need help.

Melendez said she is undocumented and knows the fear firsthand of being asked for documentation. It further erodes the relationship, she said, between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

“Historically, you know, law enforcement has been the ones to rip away people from their families,” Melendez said.

She said she hopes the rally got the attention of the lawmakers who weren’t present at the protest.

But the two lawmakers who did attend said they will continue to fight the law this session. Both legislators have filed their bills. The bills are waiting for their first hearing.