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McManus, Sheriff Salazar Denounce Newly-Signed Sanctuary Cities Law

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus
Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
SAPD Chief William McManus speaks to reporters the day after Governor Greg Abbott quietly signed the bill into law.

The Chief of San Antonio’s Police Department and the Bexar County Sheriff are both denouncing the sanctuary cities bill Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law. Both say the law will deter people from calling police in emergencies.

The legislation – known as Senate Bill 4 – will take effect in September.  It calls for possible jail time or a fine for local law enforcement who refuse to comply with federal immigration detainers. It bans local policies that forbid police from asking someone’s immigration status. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus says the legislation overrides the city’s policy and that’s a problem.

“You can be asked for jaywalking, you can be asked if you’re deemed to be intoxicated in public. Any ordinance that is currently on the books that one may violate and you’re stopped for, you can be asked for your immigration status,” McManus says.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar says he fears the new law could lead to racial profiling.

“If this law is misapplied you could very easily cross the line into racial profiling and that’s just something that’s not acceptable,” Salazar says. 

Salazar says the sheriff’s office already honors immigration requests to hold inmates on a detainer for 48 hours. Any longer is decided on a case by case basis. McManus has said the law usurps his authority as chief and Salazar agrees.

“I feel like the legislature is telling us not only what kind of crime should be our priority but also what I can and can't direct my officers to do,” the sheriff adds.

Both departments are unsure if they’ll go to court in an attempt to overturn the legislation.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules