El Cenizo, a small Texas city at the U.S. and Mexico border, populated almost entirely by immigrants, is leading the opposition against the nationwide immigration crackdown in its own remarkable way.
A new Texas immigration law requiring police to detain criminal suspects for possible deportation will be taking effect on September 1, 2017. El Cenizo, despite its size and equivalently inconsequential influence, has nonetheless decided to combat the measure, and the Republican Party behind it, with a lawsuit, pitting its mayor against Texas’ strong conservative base.
“People have been posting that they should make an example out of me and that they should lock me up,” says 34-year-old El Cenizo Mayor Raul Reyes in a City Hall interview.
Reyes, mayor to only 3,300 residents, voluntarily placed himself at the center of a long-time conflict by helping draft the federal lawsuit. He claims it’s a “sacrifice [he’s] willing to make for this cause,” adding that he takes pride in knowing that he “will be on the right side of history.”
The new immigration law in question is hardly the first of its kind.
In May, the Texas Senate wrote and passed Senate Bill 4, forcing so-called “sanctuary cities” to assist in federal immigration crackdown efforts. The bill, much inspired by President Trump’s hard-hitting rhetoric against immigrants and immigration in general, authorizes the state to penalize cities and counties to suspend or terminate police officers, sheriffs, and even elected officials who refuse to comply with detainer requests.
These are requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold immigrant detainees until ICE agents can initiate deportation proceedings.
Texas Senate Bill 4 was quickly signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott, who tweeted “I’m getting my signing pen warmed up.”
The law was met with resistance from the growing progressive presence in Texas. Texan social activists made swift action to combat anti-immigration policies amid concerns that these would eventually lead to racial profiling, the unfair targeting of Latinos, and even unjust deportation of immigrants for minor offenses.
In response to these concerns, Texas Rep. Matt Rinaldi went on TV to state that the law would merely ensure that “criminal aliens – murderers, rapists, child abusers” would be the primary targets of the federal authorities. He adds the law goes after criminal “illegals,” forcing them to be responsible for their crimes without the prejudice of racial profiling.
According to local officials supporting the SB-4, the law became a necessary measure when county sheriffs said they would outright ignore detainer requests from ICE.
Reyes has since received mixed reactions ranging from support to disdain – some even claiming that the mayor’s opposition would only inspire more Border Patrol arrests.
If you are an immigrant, undocumented or otherwise, concerned about your constitutional rights in this growing sanctuary city crisis, don’t hesitate to contact the offices of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call us today to schedule a consultation with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.