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Local government, law enforcement leaders oppose 'sanctuary city' bill

Leaders ask Gov. Abbott to veto SB 4

SAN ANTONIO – Gathered in front of the Bexar County Courthouse on Friday, a group of state and local government leaders and heads of law enforcement agencies rallied in hopes that Gov. Greg Abbott would veto a controversial bill against so-called "sanctuary cities."

Texas Senate Bill 4 would allow police officers to ask people they arrest or detain about their immigration status, and could mean jail for police chiefs, sheriffs and constables who don't comply with detainer requests. Local leaders think the law could create numerous problems.

"SB 4 is bad for public safety," San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said Friday. "It will not make our streets safer."

McManus and Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar believe the bill could compromise trust of law enforcement among undocumented immigrants, a community that is already wary of them.

"They feel they can't come to me, their Bexar County sheriff, because they're more terrified of being deported," Salazar said.

While SB 4 forbids any discrimination, the chief and sheriff worry it could lead to racial profiling.

"There's no reason why I would ask someone for their papers other than their skin color or the way they speak," McManus said.

The bill has already passed both the House and Senate, and with Abbott tweeting Wednesday he's "getting his signing pen warmed up," stopping it seems like a long shot.

That's the last thing the local Republican Party wants to see.

"I think we'll have a much safer county and city of San Antonio," Bexar County Republican Party Chairman Robert Stovall said of the bill.

Stovall doesn't think much of McManus and Salazar's opposition, either.

"These are the laws and it is the Constitution. That's what they are there for," He said. "Why are these guys against protecting the citizens that they were hired for? Maybe they need to go find another job."

Most of the Bexar County delegation in the state Legislature voted against SB 4. Two Republicans, Sen. Donna Campbell and Rep. Lyle Larson were the only ones to vote for it. Republican House Speaker Joe Straus abstained from voting.

KSAT reached out to all three, but did not hear back before airtime Friday afternoon.

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