Last month, a federal appeals court upheld key provisions of Senate Bill 4, the law that creates civil penalties for government officials who limit local police enforcement of immigration laws and imposes criminal penalties for officials who don’t honor immigration detainer requests at jails.
Despite the ruling, however, it appears some city leaders are heeding the calls of immigration activists who are urging city officials to “risk it” and ignore the law. For instance, at a rally in March in front of City Hall, with people calling on the city to change their policies in order to minimize the impact of SB 4, City Councilman Rey Saldaña questioned whether or not people should cooperate with local law enforcement, saying: “…I don’t know the answers about how they should interact with law enforcement,” and then adding, without any supporting evidence, that compliance with SB 4 means people “may not report issues going on in the neighborhood.”
Councilman Saldaña’s statements last month come on the heels of actions by Police Chief William McManus on the night of December 23, 2017 in which he may have violated established procedures and state and federal laws pertaining to human smuggling and trafficking. In this incident, which is currently under investigation by the Texas Attorney General, the Police Chief, in what the Express-News called an “unusual decision,” released twelve undocumented immigrants, who were in his custody, without properly and thoroughly identifying them. At his explicit order, the procedures followed by police officers handling this case were opposite of those followed in a similar case earlier in the year. In explaining the different treatment of the case, including the exclusion of Homeland Security from the investigation as is required by state and federal law, Chief McManus stated, “it’s not necessarily how every case will be handled going forward.”
The mission of the San Antonio Police Officers Association is to support Police Officers and ensure their fair treatment by city officials. When officers receive mixed messages from the city leaders about how and whether they should follow established laws and procedures, it makes their job more difficult and that impacts public safety.
Our message to City leaders is simple: follow the law, not politics, and support our officers by not sending conflicting messages to the community about whether or not they should follow the law and cooperate with local law enforcement.
1 Express-News, “After SB 4 ruling activists call for local government to take action,” March 14, 2018.
2 Express-News, “After SB 4 ruling activists call for local government to take action,” March 14, 2018.
3 Express-News, “McManus: Police did not have jurisdiction to detain migrants,” January 4, 2018.