What the Bill Would Do
The legislation contains two key provisions that mirror what other states have done.
According to the text of the bill, localities may not stop police from “inquiring into the immigration status of a person lawfully detained for the investigation of a criminal offense or arrested.” Indeed, for arrestees, the bill requires an immigration status check.
A local law enforcement agency that has custody of a person who has been arrested and transported to a place of detention shall verify the immigration status of the person by use of the federal Secure Communities program operated by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcment or a successor program.
The bill also stops cities from establishing sanctuary laws that permit or require police and local officials to ignore illegal aliens. In other words, state and local officials in Texas, as in Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona, will be required to obey federal immigration law vis-à-vis the apprehension and detention of illegals. According to the law:
[A city or locality] may not adopt a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which [it] prohibits the enforcement of the law of this state or federal law relating to immigrants or immigration, including the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.
Importantly, the bill permits federal immigration officers to enter jails to enforce immigration laws.
The bill passed during an special session of the legislature after it failed during the regular session.
Illegal-Alien Supporters Don't Like It
Democrats in the Senate were unhappy, to say the least. Republicans have ruined, they argued on the floor of the Senate, the illegal-alien fiesta.
One Senator asserted that it is time for Latino hunting, El Paso's KVIA television reported. "This bill is open season on Latinos," claimed Sen. Mario Gallegos (D-Houston). "This bill is the most racist, Latino-bashing, anti-immigrant bill I've ever seen."
"Latino" legislators say whites won't be subject to inevitable racial profiling the bill will allow, the station reported. Said Democrat Sen. Carlos Uresti, "This bill strikes at the hearts and souls of the Latino people of Texas. Any furtive glance or misstatement can put you under suspicion. All that matters is the color of your skin and if you have an accent. I shouldn't have to prove I'm a citizen."
The Houston Chronicle recorded his other remarks:
[He] recalled his days as a U.S. Marine when he was called a "wetback" and given the name "Charlie" because Spanish was forbidden in school.
"This bill is hurtful. It's ignorant, and it's offensvie," Uresti said, asking colleagues to pray before they vote.
"Ask what Jesus would do?" he said.
"It's our moral duty to stand up against discrimination," [he] said. "We are fixing to impact every Hispanic citizen in the state of Texas — documented and undocumented."
Anglos will not be asked about their citizenship, Whitmire said in an emotional speech before the vote. He asked his seven Hispanic colleagues to rise.
"This legislation will force them to prove their citizenship (if pulled over for a traffic violation)," Whitmire said. "This is a sad day."
As well, the station reported:
At one point, the Senate's seven Hispanic members all stood as symbols of who may be asked to prove they are citizens. At the same time, a man in the public gallery unfurled a sign that read "SHAME" before he was apprehended by security and removed.
"If the states stand up and speak out, then maybe the federal government will finally act," Sen. Dan Patrick said, according to the paper. "To not pass this legislation would be to throw up our hands and do nothing."
Like Gallegos and Whitmire, Patrick represents the sanctuary city of Houston, where a drunk-driving illegal alien crashed through a traffic barrier and killed a police officer. The federal government had twice deported the vehicular killer. Drunk-driving illegals have killed other policemen as well.
The bill's chief sponsor Sen. Tommy Williams, the Chronicle reported, denied the bill would racially profile "Latinos." Like legislation in Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona, SB 9 forbids targeting illegals because of their appearance or race. Williams said SB 9 is "not about race or fear-mongering."
Of the illegals and drug smuggling, the Chronicle reported, Williams said, "It's real and it's at our doorstep." He added that passing the bill will "send a loud and clear message to criminal illegal aliens that we will not tolerate their presence in Texas."
Illegals and What They Cost Texas
That presence is big. The Pew Hispanic Center put the number of border jumpers in Texas at 1.6 million in 2009. They constitute 6.5 percent of the population and 8.7 percent of the workforce. More than 1 million hold jobs, which means 600,000 are not working.
The bill is now headed for debate in the Texas House of Representatives.