By Kirsten Bokenkamp
While not a surprise, it is still a disappointment that just after midnight Wednesday following more than five-hours of debate, the Senate passed anti-immigrant legislation known as SB 9. Some legislators tried, and failed, to pass similar legislation during the regular session, but Gov. Rick Perry resurrected the issue during the special session. The bill will shortly move to the House for debate, where it is also expected to pass.
During debate, a number of senators stood up to the majority and placed their colleagues who supported the bill on notice. Sen. Carlos Uresti of San Antonio called the bill hurtful, ignorant, and offensive. Sen. John Whitmire of Houston opposed the bill stating that he had a moral duty to stand up against discrimination. Sen. Jose Rodriguez of El Paso asserted that while the nation’s competitiveness depends on Hispanics, Texas will be viewed as an unwelcoming place towards all immigrants — legal and illegal, documented and undocumented.
Earlier this week on Monday, hundreds of people including police chiefs, business and religious leaders testified about why this bill will hurt all Texans. This discriminatory bill will have the unintended consequence of making Texas’ communities less safe, drain our already strapped economy, create distrust between law enforcement and residents, and tear families apart. Instead of combating dangerous and violent crime, this bill could turn our local officers into state and locally funded immigration police and will actually discourage reporting crimes and working with police. Members of the business community, law enforcement officials, faith groups, and concerned residents have all come to the same conclusion: This bill is not good for Texas.
One other unintended consequence of this bill – and one we hope for — is a new generation of human rights advocates, whose first priority will be to hold government officials accountable for anti-immigrant measures such as SB 9. This fight is far from over, and we will be on the right side of history. Want to help? Find out how by visiting our website, www.aclutx.org, and signing-up for our E-Alerts.