Undocumented immigrants on high alert in El Paso after crackdown of illegal immigration
Undocumented immigrants in El Paso are on high alert following a crackdown on illegal immigration. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court upheld the bulk of a Texas law targeting sanctuary cities. Critics of Senate Bill 4 are calling it the toughest state-level immigration measure in the country. The law allows police officers to ask people during routine stops whether they're living in the U.S. legally.
"It's terrifying for our community. Especially those of us who have families and ourselves who are undocumented,” said Roberto Valadez, the co-founder of Soñando Juntos in El Paso. Valadez is also a DACA recipient as an immigrant from Juarez.
Senate Bill 4, known as the Sanctuary Cities Law, seeks to make it mandatory for local law enforcement officers to cooperate with immigration agents. On Tuesday, the court ruled that most parts of SB4 are constitutional.
"What this ruling does is, it says that that is now allowed,” said Edgar Saldivar, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “Moreover, you cannot have policies that prohibit that kind of cooperation."
"We want our cities to be sanctuaries for Americans, not safe havens for criminals. That is why I am calling on Congress to block funds for jurisdictions that shield dangerous criminals,” President Donald Trump said Tuesday.
Valadez said everyday tasks are now risky for some people in our community.
"You can go to the grocery store and have one of your lights go off and that's the reason to pull you over. You don't have documentation, you're automatically subject to detainment. And then deportation,” Valadez said.
For now, most of SB4 is in effect except for the Endorsement Provision.
"So now sheriffs and deputies and police officers can express whether they endorse it, or whether they don't,” Saldivar explained.
The ACLU said at least that news today is a win.
"We were hoping to get a win on all of the law. So now we have to consider all of our options, consider our next steps,” Saldivar said.
El Paso County Judge Ruben John Vogt, sent CBS4 the following statement:
“Today’s ruling upholds all provisions from a facial constitutional challenge of SB 4, except one which ensures First Amendment protections are in place for elected officials. Although I’m happy that elected officials are able to share their opinions without penalty, it’s disappointing to see SB 4 upheld despite overwhelming evidence by local officials and local law enforcement that it will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe. Enforcement of federal immigration law should not be a burden placed on local law enforcement. As local elected officials we must now ensure all of our community members, despite this ruling, feel safe and able to continue to place their trust in our local law enforcement officials. El Paso County is considering all options and is in consultation with its legal counsel. The County Attorney’s office will brief the Commissioners Court during Executive Session on Monday, March 19th.”
The El Paso County Attorney’s Office told CBS4 the office still hasn't been briefed by outside council, and it will make a decision on Monday on what to do next after visiting with El Paso County commissioners.
CBS4 also reached out to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the El Paso Police Department and Mayor Dee Margo. We have not received a response from any of them as of yet.