Photo: Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton
When the legislature reconvenes on January 11th, they’ll be met with support and opposition from the state’s sheriffs
A number of sheriffs in Texas are saying they oppose their state legislators’ plans to push anti-immigration bills, and the sheriffs against such action have joined with immigrant advocacy groups in Austin, Texas to denounce more than a dozen bills targeted at undocumented immigration.
“It’s split among my colleagues on whether we should be out here just stopping individuals without probable cause, and questioning them on their immigration status,” said Greg Hamilton, the Travis County Sheriff who believes the proposals are just asking for profiling issues.
In Arizona last year, a law was passed that requires police officers, while enforcing other laws, to ask the immigration status of anyone they suspect to be unauthorized immigrants. Now, Texas legislatures are pushing for identical laws to be passed in their state.
Also worried about the risk of having to profile people, other sheriffs are also sighting understaffing and under-funding of their areas as reasons they oppose the laws like those proposed. Sheriff Milton is one of those that say adding the enforcement of immigration law on his deputies would be too much.
Right now, in most Texas counties, immigration status only becomes a matter to be dealt with when a person is booked into jail and their fingerprints are taken and sent to the Department of Homeland Security as part of the Secure Communities program.
Sheriff Adrián García of Harris County, the first Texas county to take part in the federal program, says Secure Communities was the extent of what he was willing to do to try to stop illegal immigration, and that the proposed new laws are dangerous to the community, saying, “Legislation that would encourage people to have second thoughts about calling 911 or Crime Stoppers, I have a problem with that,” said García.