As If DPD Wasn’t Fucked Enough As Is, The Passing Of The SB4 “Sanctuary Cities Bill” Means Dallas Cops Will Now Be Stretched Even Thinner.
The Dallas Police Department is already in a pretty rough spot these days. But after Thursday’s 3 a.m. vote down in Austin on SB4 — otherwise known as the “sanctuary cities bill” — Dallas’ already overwhelmed police force is about to have even more responsibilities thrown onto their pile as local police officers will now also be tasked with asking for the immigration status of people they legally detain.
Sheriffs, constables and police chiefs could also face Class A misdemeanor charges and up to $25,000 in fines for not holding arrested individuals for Immigration and Customs Enforcement or for not cooperating with federal immigration agents. The law also says that, whenever ICE wants to set up checkpoints around the city, the Dallas Police Department – which is already expected to be short 400 officers this fiscal year – will have to staff up and cooperate on those efforts. Yes, even as violent crime ticks up in the city and even as police officers are being asked to handle such menial tasks as rounding up stray dogs, this new responsibility – for which they have not been trained – has been placed on their shoulders.
This has been a point on contention for local police officials for a few years now. In 2015, Dallas County sheriff Lupe Valdez made headlines when she stated that her office would not comply with ICE on every single request. But SB4’s passing now says that such a stance is now a criminal action.
Of course, police concerns are just the tip of the iceberg here.
As the home to an estimated 475,000 undocumented immigrants, local activists in Dallas say they fear what the new law means for these people’s livelihoods. Christopher Enriquez, the outgoing district director for the League of United Latin American Citizens, says his concern at this point centers around how frequently officers will ask people for their status.
“If an officer decides to ask somebody, who are they going to ask?” Enriquez wonders. “Are they going to ask somebody who looks like me or my parents? Or somebody with blue eyes and blonde hair?”
Enriquez says the law, which is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, is likely to hurt the relationship between Dallas police and the Latino community. Immigrants are increasingly less likely to call police for help, and Enriquez worries that those affected by crimes are likely to continue to live in danger for fear of deportation.
“For now, we just hope that we can inform people about what they can do,” Enriquez says. “We need to prepare ourselves and our community.”