SAN ANTONIO -- The fight continues against Senate Bill 4, the ban on sanctuary cities.
Days after Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law, dozens took to the steps of San Fernando Cathedral Thursday morning in protest.The group says hate is at the heart of SB4 and opponents claim it's simply unconstitutional.
"It's one of the most anti-immigrant bills ever passed by a state in history," said Justin Tullius, an attorney with RAICES.In efforts to put a stop to the bill, activists have called on Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar to refuse to honor ICE detainer requests and they plan to voice their concerns at the Capitol.
"Sanctuario, si! Violencia, no!", Pro-Immigrant, yes! Violence, no!" chanted the group.The newly-formed Pro Immigrant Coalition, made up of local activists and community leaders, claims SB4 is anti-immigrant and anti-democracy. Over 100 individuals and groups from San Antonio have joined the coalition to resist SB4 at the city, county and state level.
The goal of the coalition is to form a base of community support, giving all immigrants a safe haven in San Antonio and Bexar County."As a previously undocumented immigrant person, I know what it feels like to feel fear and scared of the police and ICE," said Barbie Hurtado, Community Organizer for RAICES.
Senate Bill 4 will force local law enforcement to honor detainer requests by ICE, which are “immigration holds” for suspects in custody who are in the country illegally."It's going to take us back to those days when we saw racism and we felt discrimination," said Rebecca Flores of the Pro-Immigrant Coalition.
Police chiefs and sheriffs who don't honor the requests by federal officials could be charged with a class A misdemeanor, said Tullius."This sends people into hiding, This sends people into danger, this makes our community much more vulnerable, this creates an environment of hostility and fear," said Patricia Castillo of the P.E.A.C.E. Initiative.
The bill will also allow law enforcement to ask people about their immigration status before an arrest. That includes during a traffic stop.Opponents scrutinize the idea, saying it will lead to racial profiling and civil rights abuses.
"If we are of color, we stand vulnerable to this law," said Terri Byers of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel.San Antonio Police Chief, William McManus, said he and other law enforcement across the state believe people will shy away from helping police in fear they might be asked about immigration status.
Attorneys warn the bill will separate families and target parents who have no current status because of what they consider a "broken immigration system.""Given that over 90% of the students in SAISD are Hispanic, the 'show me your papers law' will have a huge negative impact on our students and their families," said Byers.
"We reject these efforts by Trump and Abbott to strip us of our humanity and force us into the shadows," said Dana Schneider, Organizing Director for the UNITE HERE labor union.Governor Abbott signed the bill during a Facebook Live on Sunday.
He said public safety is his top priority and SB4 furthers that objective.The law goes into effect September 1, but legal challenges are expected before then.