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Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and SAPD outline how their officers will handle SB4

Joey Palacios

Texas law enforcement officers across the state now have the power to arrest any individuals they believe have entered the country illegally.

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas’ controversial Senate Bill 4 to go into effect as lawsuits from the federal government and immigration advocates proceed through the courts.

The bill makes crossing the Mexico-Texas border illegally a state crime and empowers state law enforcement officers to enforce it.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said on Monday that he disagreed with the law. He added that his office was prepared to handle it if necessary.

“Here at the sheriff's office, we've actually drafted up a new policy that is going to deal with it and is going to guide how our response goes,” Salazar said. “We need our deputies to understand that … we may not be allowed to tell you 'you can't enforce a law,' right? That's not what we're saying. What we are saying, though, is 'if you choose to do it, you're assuming some liability for yourself. You're putting this agency in a whole lot of liability.' ”

Senate Bill 4, the Texas law that allows local police to arrest people suspected of being in the country illegally, is blocked yet again after a late-night order Tuesday from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Salazar said deputies would be required to fill out a report explaining in detail how and why they even began asking questions about someone’s immigration status. The process would require a supervisor to be on-site for the arrest and write their own report about the arrest.

“It's going to be a lengthy report,” he said. “It's a very detailed process that has to take place in order for you to try to make an arrest under this.”

Salazar said the last thing his office wants is for deputies to begin racial profiling, a major concern immigration advocates have had over the bill.

“We don't want a deputy that thinks that they have authorities that actually don't exist, crossing the line over into racial profiling and getting themselves and the agency in a whole lot of trouble, for, again, a misdemeanor,” he said.

An SAPD public information officer said the department “will comply with [SB4] and do not expect to make any substantive changes to SAPD policy or practice.”

The department did not detail any similar policy to the one Salazar described for his deputies.

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