Dallas Conference Brings Together Latino Policymakers

The 34th National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference kicked off with a focus on Senate Bill 4

Policymakers from across the country are meeting in Dallas this week as part of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference.

Many of them are focused on the recently signed Senate Bill 4, or the ban on so-called "sanctuary cities."

"The state of Texas has 40 percent Latinos, and for them to pass S.B. 4 is incredible," said Gloria Carrillo, NALEO board member.

Texas lawmakers took the opportunity to build support for the fight against S.B. 4, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed in the recently concluded legislative session. Those gathered for the NALEO conference signed a resolution condemning the measure.

"We are going to fight like hell to make sure we can stop S.B. 4," said Texas State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, at the national leadership luncheon Thursday.

The bill requires law enforcement officers to comply with federal requests to hold criminals for deportation, and gives officers the authority to ask immigration status during detainments.

"Citizens expect law enforcement officers to enforce the law," Abbott said when he signed the bill.

S.B. 4 goes into effect in September, but several Texas cities – including Dallas – have joined to challenge it in the courts. The first hearing on the lawsuit is Monday.

"You see cities and counties that are filing suit against S.B. 4 and look to fight it in the courts, and we think we are going to be successful," said State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas.

Activist Joaquin Guerra, from San Antonio, was at the convention. He has started a website called endsb4.org.

"In terms of the fight for 2018, this issue is going to be front and center," Guerra said.

He thinks groups will point to this bill to register voters.

"The fight is in the courts, but it has to move to the ballot box," Guerra added.

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