SAN ANTONIO – At the request of Mayor Ivy Taylor, San Antonio Police cChief Bill McManus will brief City Council’s governance committee Oct. 28 regarding his “practical and efficient approach” to dealing with the immigrant community.
McManus has previously said he doesn’t want his officers alienating victims or witnesses by asking about anyone’s legal status.
In a copy of a memo to council members obtained by KSAT, the mayor said in the interest of transparency, she wants the chief to brief the committee next week on how to create a written policy based on what SAPD already is doing.
Leslie Garza, a spokeswoman for the mayor, pointed out any written version wouldn’t be for a sanctuary city ordinance.
“The community and City Council should be able to evaluate current practice against a written policy and guidelines,” the mayor said in her memo.
Manuel Medina, chair of the Bexar County Democratic Party, said, “We need to make it formal. We need to put it in the San Antonio Police Department’s general manual so that police officers are trained in the right policy.”
But Robert Stovall, his counterpart with the Bexar County Republican Party, said, “I would hope the city of San Antonio is not serious about taking this on, because San Antonio is doing just fine without it.”
The mayor said questions recently have surfaced among her council colleagues about the city’s immigration policies and procedures, “commonly known as our ‘sanctuary city status."
San Antonio remains the only city among 13 others in Texas that is not an official sanctuary city.
She said it was her understanding San Antonio’s approach is the result of SAPD’s “successful application of community based policing principles and strategies.”
Even so, the mayor pointed out, “dangerous criminals are remanded to the appropriate authority.”
James Keith, a spokesman for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, said police officers and deputies do not inquire about a suspect’s immigration status. However, he said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has access to the Bexar County Jail’s booking system and reviews all intakes.
If someone is determined to be in the country illegally, Keith said, ICE then places a hold on them for potential deportation.
Stovall said inquiring about legal status is different from “turning these criminals over to ICE and the federal government.”