Today, sanctuary legislation author, State Senator Tommy Williams (R-Woodlands), asks that we review his SB 9 and reach a thoughtful conclusion. See his op ed in Rio Grande Guardian at http://tinyurl.com/ybqf6c9. Sb 9 is available at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us. House hearings related to this bill will allegedly occur this week. The fiscal notes to this bill at http://tinyurl.com/3rmrbs8 provide the following as to local goverment impact of this bill:
According to the Texas Association of Counties (TAC), the Harris County Sheriff’s Office reported the fiscal impact would not be significant due to the sheriff’s office currently using federal secure community guidelines in the jail operations. However, TAC also noted that the majority of counties, especially smaller counties, could experience a significant fiscal impact to implement the provisions of the bill.
According to the Texas Municipal League, costs associated with implementing the provisions of the bill could be significant.
The City of Houston Police Department reported the fiscal impact associated with implementing the provisions of the bill would be moderate to significant. Costs would include salaries for 58 new personnel (22 local officers designated to perform immigration functions; 33 guards for additional prisoners beds; 3 identification officers) ($3.75 million); increased time for housing inmates in jail (currently Houston houses for 12 hours; federal law requires 48 hours); 100-120 additional jail beds ($419,147); one Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) machine ($39,000); software and programming for AFIS ($5,000); and other costs ($280,752).
At a time in which every dollar counts to local government and our public schools are increasing class size Download Icepd61711 and cutting every corner they can find to address funding deficits, Senator Williams would have us believe that the issue of unlawful immigration status in the U.S. is akin to a terrorist threat in order to support the expenses associated with this bill. The facts are to the contrary as to a corollary of increased crime tied to high immigrant populations. Download Crime Fact Check 12-12-07 For example, as stated in this Immigration Policy Center Fact Sheet from the American Immigration Council:
Although the undocumented immigrant population doubled to about 12 million from 1994 to 2005, the violent crime rate in the United States declined by 34.2% and the property crime rate fell by 26.4%. This decline in crime rates was not just national, it also occurred in border cities and other cities with large immigrant populations—such as San Diego, El Paso, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami.
Every day, law enforcement assesses the threat to the public of certain activities to allocate resources. Just this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made one of these assessments and issued a memorandum Download ICEdetentionmemo 311 to the field to apply greater prosecutorial discretion in its enforcement actions, while we here in Texas apparently want to treat any sort of unlawful status as the equivalent of a terrorist threat to mandate enforcement. Are we forgetting that the most offensive provisions of SB 1070 are still enjoined? I have posted several blog entries on the issues of sanctuary bills, SB 1070, the myth of crime tied to high numbers of immigrants, and the very vague legal term of "unlawful status" under U.S. immigration law, which is typically a civil not criminal violation. I hope you might refer to them.
Take a look at the ICE prosecutorial discretion memo from this week. It encourages ICE agents to take the following into consideration as factors in deciding whether to apprehend, detain, or remove someone from the U.S.
The following positive factors should prompt particular care and consideration: • veterans and members of the U.S. armed forces; • long-time lawful permanent residents; •. minors and elderly individuals; • individuals present in the United States since childhood; • pregnant or nursing women; • victims of domestic violence; trafficking, or other serious crimes; • individuals who suffer from a serious mental or physical disability; and • individuals with serious health conditions.
The following positive factors should prompt particular care and consideration:
• veterans and members of the U.S. armed forces;
• long-time lawful permanent residents;
•. minors and elderly individuals;
• individuals present in the United States since childhood;
• pregnant or nursing women;
• victims of domestic violence; trafficking, or other serious crimes;
• individuals who suffer from a serious mental or physical disability; and
• individuals with serious health conditions.
In addition, ICE found it necessary to issue a new detainer form reminding local jails engaged in such programs as Secure Communities of the 48 hour rule as well as attempting to inform those detained of their rights for release based on immigration related incarceration by local law enforcement. Refer to this new form at:Download ICE detainer. In pertinent part, ICE instructs the detainer/jail that:
Maintain custody of the subject for a period NOT TO EXCEED 48 HOURS, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, beyond the time when the subject would have otherwise been released from your custody to allow DHS to take custody of the subject. This request flows from federal regulation 8 C.F.R. § 287.7, which provides that a law enforcement agency "shall maintain custody of an alien" once a detainer has been issued by DHS. You are not authorized to hold the subject beyond these 48 hours.
The DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties has also just issued a new complaint form tied to concerns related to civil rights violations due to Secure Communties and other immigration enforcement related programs in which local law enforcement may be involved. Download CRCL DHS complaint In addition, DHS just issued a new memorandum outlining its plan for training programs tied to the Secure Communities program due to numerous civil rights and liberties complaints. Download DHS TRAINING SECURE COM These actions, while laudable, reflect the serious concerns raised by on the ground implementation of the program objectives.
Senator Williams makes reference in his article to the ICE Secure Communities program, which several states such as Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts have recently rejected. http://tinyurl.com/3osk3oo Please refer to this attached report concerning Secure Communities for background information. Download Secure_Communities_updated_110410 In its final recommendations, this Immigration Policy Center report notes as follows:
While Secure Communities aims to transform the relationship between local police and federal authorities (ICE), the fact that Secure Communities does not include an MOA to deputize local police officers does not alleviate the fear and mistrust of the police that immigrant communities experience when immigration enforcement activity is conducted at local jails. Concerns about pretextual arrests, profiling, and an ICE presence in the jails is likely to result in a community that is hesistant to cooperate with the police, report crimes, or share important information. In this sense, Secure Communities may make the job of local police more difficult. Furthermore, there are serious due process concerns surrounding the issuance of ICE detainers. The fact that individuals may be unable to seek justice or may be detained for long periods of time should raise red flags in the legal and civil-rights communities, as well as for the general public interest in preserving Constitutional rights.
So what are my main concerns about SB 9 after reading it and trying to engage in thoughtful analysis -- in no particular order:
1. Diversion of scarce law enforcement resources to deal with civil immigration violations.
2. Reduction in security of communities as evidenced by recent letter signed by Texas law enforcement representatives.Download Letter-From-Chiefs-RE-SB-9
3. Unfunded enforcement costs to counties and cities.
4. Removal of authority of local law enforcement management to direct its personnel to focus enforcement actions tied to risk assessment and security concerns.
5. Creation of increased risks of civil rights and discriminatory acts.
6. Continued errors in understanding the legal parameters of lawful presence in the U.S. resulting in the denial of benefits to those who indeed are lawfully present in the U.S. For example, limiting a person's driver's license to a one year term for foreign students lawfully in the U.S. It appears that since students are allowed to remain in the U.S. for duration of status tied to the I-20 form issued by international student advisors, they will be renewing their licenses annually when the I-20 form authorizes them to remain in the U.S. for the completion of their period of study which may be for several years. DHS already has a separate security database created post 9/11 to monitor student status (SEVIS). Creating this arbitrary one year limit does not serve security concerns, but certainly burdens the foreign student population at our universities and colleges.
What is it going to take for leadership in Texas to vote this bill down? We need jobs, investment, and education in our state - not platitudes to those currying election. In the name of security ---- SB 9 does not deliver.