The Houston Police Union says it won't be a priority to enforce Texas SB 4 that allows police to question and arrest people suspected of being undocumented.
Here is what it says in the Houston Landing:
"We're here to help victims of crime. We're not here to be the immigration police. It's not our job," said Doug Griffith, President of the Houston Police Officers' Union."
The police union is in agreement with Judge Hidalgo.
Again from The Landing:
“To have local law enforcement playing as immigration officers — a role they’re not trained for — is probably the worst thing right now for the criminal justice system as a whole here in Harris County,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo in a press conference, stressing that taxpayers would have to foot the bill for the additional jail costs.
Griffith agreed that SB 4 is a resource issue. “As far as Houston, we don’t have the manpower or the time to be able to do anything like that,” he said."
The Landing article said the union will be acting off guidance from the Houston Police legal department.
First of all, good to see the statement. It shows a pragmatic and humane approach.
Still, there are questions.
Mr. Griffith says there is a manpower issue involved. Mayor-elect Whitmire says he will hire more cops and is asking 200 Department of Public Safety Texas state troops to serve as police on Houston streets. If the manpower issues are resolved to Mayor Whitmire's satisfaction, will policies towards the undocumented change?
Can Mayor Whitmire offer assurance DPS troops won't act as deportation squads in Houston communities? These police are under Greg Abbott's command. There were many of these state troops present at a recent Abbott/Trump political event at the border. When DPS was deployed in Austin for street patrols, there were disproportionate arrests of Latinos and Black people & a refusal to comply with Mayor Kirk Watson's request that they leave. How will Mayor Whitmire have any more authority of state police troops than did Mayor Watson?
If Donald Trump is returned to the White House, will DPS troops help enforce Trump's openly announced plans to suspend civil liberties? Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton won't be standing up for Houstonians against Donald Trump. The expansion of police powers involved in SB 4 is a threat to all freedom-loving citizens.
It is up to the people of Houston and Harris County to protect democracy. It'll be our involvement and our questions that will serve as essential checks and balances against the anti-democracy push of the political right, and the frequent absence of imagination and unwillingness to take risks from our side of the aisle. It'll be our involvement that offers the best hope of protecting ourselves.
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I'm Neil Aquino