Corpus Christi should join lawsuit against sanctuary cities law

Editorial Board, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Opposition to Senate Bill 4, the state’s repulsive so-called sanctuary cities law, is growing, as well it should.

Last week Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, joined the lawsuit against SB 4, joining San Antonio, the seventh-largest, Dallas, the ninth-largest, Austin, the 11th-largest, and other Texas cities, counties and organizations.

The Corpus Christi City Council has not addressed the SB 4 lawsuit. It should. This city should join on the side of these other plaintiff cities as soon as possible, as a matter of conscience and for practical reasons.

The aim of SB 4 is to conscript local police resources into federal immigration enforcement and punish policy-makers such as sheriffs and police chiefs who don’t cooperate. There’s no accepted legal definition of a sanctuary city. But basically it means that the local officials discourage their officers from inquiring about the residency status of detainees because it causes immigrant neighborhoods to become uncooperative toward police, and they don’t jam up their jail space waiting for the feds to check out detainees who are legally due to be released.

A driver stopped for speeding meets the definition of a detainee. The most likely impetus for asking about the driver’s residency is that he or she is brown-skinned or Spanish-accented. That’s an example of profiling. 

Gov. Greg Abbott, who declared SB 4 a priority, insists with a straight face that there won’t be profiling. But the true nature of SB 4 played out on the House floor on the last day of the 85th Legislature when Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, made a big show of phoning immigration officials to report SB 4 protesters who fit the profile. Rinaldi ended up in a scuffle with Hispanic lawmakers.

We found out later, from a witness, that several other non-Hispanic legislators also called immigration authorities. These are the people who passed the law that they claim isn’t discriminatory and doesn’t encourage profiling. They profiled.

The Rinaldi incident unmasked SB 4 for what it is. It is a practical application of the politics of hate, a pander to anti-immigrant sentiment and to racist fear of so-called bad hombres. Our City Council should take an official stand against it by joining these other leading Texas cities. It’s a moral obligation.

 

On our  front page Friday was a story by the Texas Tribune about the explosive growth of Texas’ Hispanic population. More than half of the state’s population gain since 2010 was Hispanic.

The first electronic comment on that story, signed “Rufus B,” said: “All the more reason for SB4 to kick in and all the Tax money going to the Sanctuary cities be STOPPED.”

What can be gleaned from the comment is that Rufus B assumes 1) that Hispanic population growth in Texas is mostly undocumented immigrants pouring over the border, 2) Hispanic population growth is a bad thing that should be stopped, and 3) SB 4 is the way to do it.

Normally we would ignore a comment like that from someone like Rufus B. But Texas has many Rufus B’s and they vote. They vote for people like Rinaldi.

Mayor Joe McComb told us his focus is solving wastewater and street reconstruction, not joining the SB 4 lawsuit. He and other city officials told us that SB 4 won’t have much if any practical effect on how our police department does its job. McComb’s primary focus is where it should be. And we acknowledge that SB 4’s practical effect on local governance may be little to none.

But this still is a fight Corpus Christi must fight. This city is 62 percent Hispanic and destined to become more Hispanic soon because the younger the age group, the higher the Hispanic percentage. Our Hispanic population includes people whose ancestors were Texans before Texas was part of the United States. Immigrants are a minority of our Hispanic population and undocumented immigrants are an even smaller portion.

The demographics show that joining the SB 4 lawsuit would be a practical decision. But mainly it’s just the right thing to do.  

 

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