‘We do not anticipate any changes’: Sheriff Javier Salazar reacts to Gov. Greg Abbott’s signing of Senate Bill 4

Law would make illegal immigration a state crime in Texas, take effect in March 2024

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar. (Joshua Saunders, KSAT)

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar is one of several leaders across Texas reacting to Senate Bill 4, a new law that will give state and local police the authority to arrest people they suspect of being undocumented anywhere in the state.

Gov. Greg Abbott traveled to the Rio Grande Valley on Monday to sign the law, which drew ire from critics who called the law “unconstitutional,” according to The Texas Tribune.

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SB 4, authored by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, would make crossing the international border into Texas without authorization a state crime. The law would take effect on March 5, 2024.

Further, it would give law enforcement officials the authority to arrest someone who they suspect crossed the border illegally.

Salazar told KSAT in a statement that the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office is analyzing the potential impact the law could have on law enforcement but has not made or planned for any changes.

“Although this bill potentially does not take effect until March of 2024, we are currently analyzing the impact it will have on law enforcement and the community we serve,” the statement reads. “We do not anticipate any changes in the way we protect and serve Bexar County. Currently, there are limits on local officers’ authority to enforce immigration, as well as rules governing racial profiling. We will be mindful of both as we craft our policies moving forward. Any victims or witnesses of crime can always call upon the BCSO for help, regardless of immigration status.”

Along with SB 4, Abbott signed Senate Bill 3, which allocates nearly $2 billion in state money to the continued construction of barriers along the border with Mexico.

Leaders across Texas react

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio — and other Democratic members of Congress — sent a letter asking that the U.S. Department of Justice sue Texas to prevent the law from taking effect.

U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican whose district includes a massive stretch of the border as well as parts of western Bexar County, is holding a press conference in Eagle Pass on Wednesday to address a migrant surge in Eagle Pass, a media release said.

An immediate lawsuit

A day after Abbott signed the law into effect in the Rio Grande Valley, immigrant rights groups sued the governor over the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Texas Civil Rights Project filed the lawsuit in an Austin federal court, claiming that SB 4 violates the U.S. Constitution since Congress gives authority over immigration enforcement to the federal government.

The two groups filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs: El Paso County, and two immigration rights organizations, El Paso-based Las Americas Immigrant Advocate Center and the Austin-based American Gateways.

Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and Bill Hicks, El Paso’s district attorney, are named as defendants.

About the Author

Mason Hickok is a digital journalist at KSAT. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a communication degree and a minor in film studies. He also spent two years working at The Paisano, the independent student newspaper at UTSA. Outside of the newsroom, he enjoys the outdoors, reading and watching movies.

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