And divided we are. Fort Worth City Council is split on whether to join a lawsuit opposing the measure that many other Texas cities have already joined.
We as the Star-Telegram Editorial Board wrote in June that the suit’s legal standing wasn’t strong, but asked Tarrant County, Fort Worth and Arlington to watch closely.
They have, but still sit on the fence. We understand.
We discussed the lawsuit at length, viewing the issue from all sides. We reviewed the text of the lawsuit. We researched the law enforcement impacts.
We find ourselves asking more questions and finding fewer answers.
As we continue to weigh the issue, a sense of unease has stuck with us. SB 4, which is set to take effect Sept. 1, worries us.
We see that critics of the protesters are missing a key piece of information. The law had changed between a public moment of declaration and when the bill was signed.
Instead of checking the ICE database against an arrested individual, it can be anyone who was detained for a potential crime.
That means possible racial profiling, which many fear will be the reality.
This law was pitched as way to make us feel safer. This isn’t going to do that for a significant number of Texans.
SB 4 has the guise of an anti-sanctuary city bill, but something festers underneath which is the issue of hand.
The people protesting yesterday illustrate that. We don’t want the color of our skin or the words we use to be cause to scrutinize our status.
It creates a fearful, silent population. No law should have this effect.
“I ask myself all the time, if a police officer pulls over an Anglo American, someone who looks white and doesn’t have an accent, what are the chances they’re going to ask that person ‘do you have your papers’?” United Fort Worth volunteer Salvador Espino Jr. told La Estrella editor Juan Ramos. “Or if they pull over someone like my grandfather Víctor, although he’s lived in the country for over 40 years, he has an accent, prefers to speak Spanish rather than English, are they going to ask if he has his papers? Absolutely they’re going to ask him if he has his papers. And that’s the problem.”
Senate Bill 4 creates too many questions, causes too much fear, and opens up too much wiggle room for possible civil rights violations.
There are ways to change the existing law and make it less of a possible weapon. Lawmakers can change back to the original, more reasonable, which was to run federal databases against arrested individuals.
If Sept. 1 arrives and there are no changes to our SB 4, local police forces must hold their departments to strict no-profiling checks and balances.
Texas needs to fully examine the law and stop its harmful reach — not just delay it with a lawsuit.