Law Enforcement Agencies Say Sanctuary City Law Changes Little

Law enforcement agencies in North Texas say the new law banning sanctuary cities doesn't change how they deal with undocumented immigrants.

The law, signed on Sunday by Gov. Greg Abbott, requires cities and counties to cooperate with federal immigration agents, especially when they ask that inmates be held in jails pending deportation.

Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn said most jails in Texas have already been turning over undocumented criminals as requested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"Ninety-nine percent of the jails in Texas are in full compliance with this law before it ever became law," Waybourn said. "They're doing the things they should do."

The new law, known as SB-4, also allows police officers to ask a person's immigration status.

That's why critics call it a "show me your papers" law.

At All Saints Catholic Church in Fort Worth, Father Stephen Jasso says that's a problem.

"We don't need an SB-4 law in Texas," he said. "Texas can do a lot better without the law than with the law. It's going to create more problems than solve the problems we have."

He said the law is spreading fear in the immigrant community among people like Martha Soto.

She said in Spanish that the law makes her distrustful and afraid to report a crime.

"Maybe the police are against me," she said.

That's a fear police and city leaders are trying to address, promising nobody will be arrested solely because of their immigration status.

"If you get stopped, you may get asked, but you are not going to be deported unless you're a criminal," said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. "It's just not going to happen. Fort Worth is not a sanctuary city. We're a very diverse, caring city."

According to Fort Worth police policy, officers may not arrest someone solely because of their immigration status and also may not call ICE agents directly.

Backers of the new law say it clearly takes aim at dangerous criminals, not undocumented immigrants who live quietly below the radar.

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