In the hours since Texas banned sanctuary cities, law enforcement officials like Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn have been trying to clear the air about what it really means for undocumented immigrants.
"We're making sure the criminal illegal alien is being held accountable," Waybourn says.
Waybourn notes that is nothing new in Tarrant County. He says his deputies already can ask people's immigration status when they're detained if it means helping figure out who they are. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) works inside the jail, checking immigration status on inmates.
"If they don't have any ID on them, if they don't know who they are, they may ask that question," Waybourn says. "And the word is 'may.' They don't have to."
Arlington Police had this to say about Senate Bill 4: "There are many times when a serious criminal offense occurs that ICE is notified and will place a detainer hold on them. There is no need to change our practices or policies since we already comply with federal officials," Lt. Chris Cook wrote in a statement.
Earlier this year, Fort Worth Police Officer Daniel Segura addressed fears about immigration policies in a video posted to social media. According to FWPD General Orders, the department does not arrest undocumented people solely based on suspicion they are here illegally.
Monday, Fort Worth Police said in the following statement: "FWPD will continue to follow our current policy. If law changes and requires local law enforcement to ask immigration status, we will comply with law."
Waybourn says racial profiling will not be tolerated when it comes to asking people about their immigration status, and cultural and sensitivity training will help ensure that.
He rejects claims this is a "show me your papers" law, calling that fear-mongering.
"The people of the state of Texas wanted it, and the legislators delivered it," Waybourn says.
One thing the sheriff very much wants to drive home is that undocumented immigrants should not be afraid to call 911. He says authorities are not going to inquire about your immigration status if you're the victim of a crime or the witness to a crime. He says he's going to be working with the immigration community to make sure this message gets across and is believed.
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