Thursday, April 27, 2017

Not just a Sad Day for Texas, but an UnGodly Spirit Prevails

The anti-sanctuary cities bill, SB4, got out of the Texas House last night with a 93-54 vote. Truly disgusting.  Here is a bill that makes it illegal for cities to be sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants and that will racially profile Latinos and Latinas, and that will further persecute people living in our country who are here not to cause trouble, but to work and contribute to our state and nation.  

In a state that is already prejudicial and exclusionary on so many levels, thoroughly documented, arguing that this will have no collateral effects on the Latino community writ large is untenable and disingenuous. 

This is not just a terribly sad day for Texas, but this is an unGodly spirit that threatens the whole. Accordingly, I encourage you to read this June 10, 2011, blog post by the Rev. Larry Payne titled, "An UnGodly Spirit Threatens the Welfare of the Whole: A Call to all good people of conscience, church and spiritual leaders in Texas" that makes this very claim from an earlier legislative session when Rick Perry was our governor.  And then consider calling Governor Greg Abbott, asking him to veto this legislation when it gets to his desk.

Our racist legislators are akin to the "evil judges of Sodom and Gomorrah who developed policies against the outcasts and strangers in their midst despite an abundance of food and resources."  A closing quote from Payne's piece that I, again, strongly encourage you to read:

If we as God’s people are called to care for the outcast and the stranger among us, how much more are we called to not perpetuate harm or cruelty to them?

Accordingly, in Ephesians 6:12, the Apostle Paul offers:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
My friends and all people of good faith who see the injustice in this law, do what the Reverend Payne did, and call out this injustice and the evil, dehumanizing motivations of our leadership—not just in Texas, but in the highest halls of state and national power.

Angela Valenzuela

Texas House gives initial OK to 'sanctuary cities' bill

Updated: 2:10 a.m. Thursday, April 27, 2017 |  Posted: 6:42 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, 2017


The Senate has already approved a version of the bill.

Democrats lined up scores of amendments to kill or weaken the bill but made little headway.

Republican and Democratic leaders tried to strike a deal Wednesday evening to cut the debate short.

After more than 16 hours of debate, the Texas House at about 3 a.m. Thursday voted 93-54 to give initial approval to the bill to ban so-called sanctuary cities, the common term for jurisdictions that decline to assist federal immigration enforcement.
Along the way, lawmakers cried, fought and traded horses on the Texas House floor, and the bill was amended to be more in line with the goals of hard-line conservatives.

Calling it the defining showdown of this legislative session for their constituents and wearing black in protest, outnumbered Democrats had lined up scores of amendments and planned to fight Senate Bill 4 late into the night.
But almost all of their amendments were defeated, and tea party-aligned Republicans countered by introducing measures that would make the bill stricter, restoring some elements that were stripped out by a House committee after being approved by the Senate.
One by Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, prohibits local law enforcement agencies from discouraging their officers from inquiring about the immigration status of people who have been detained, a broad category including routine traffic stops. The bill previously limited that provision to cases in which the person has already been arrested.
Schaefer’s amendment, approved in an 81-64 vote, drew intense criticism from Democrats, who say it will lead to racial discrimination against Latinos.
They bargained for more than four hours over a deal that never materialized to cut off debate early and abandon dozens of their planned amendments in exchange for the House forgoing some of the more conservative proposals, like Schaefer’s.
The Senate has already approved a version of the bill, which was authored by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, and was listed by Gov. Greg Abbott as one of his “emergency items” for this legislative session.
The bill would impose stiff financial penalties on jurisdictions deemed to be sanctuary cities and allow local officials to be charged with a crime for implementing sanctuary policies. It targets police agencies that discourage their officers from inquiring about subjects’ immigration status in certain circumstances and county jails that decline to honor federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to extend the detention of inmates suspected of being unauthorized immigrants.
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez has become a flashpoint in the debate over sanctuary cities after she adopted a policy in January limiting the county’s cooperation with those so-called detainer requests, which are meant to give immigration officers time to take inmates into federal custody for possible deportation proceedings.
Testy exchanges
House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, began Wednesday’s debate with a call for civility and decorum during what promised to be an emotional day. It took about two hours for decorum to fall apart during an exchange between Dallas Reps. Jason Villalba, a Republican backing the bill, and Rafael Anchia, a Democrat leading the opposition.
After Anchia pressed Villalba on crime rates among immigrant communities and other statistics, the Democrat suggested his GOP colleagues were pursuing the bill because of emotion and prejudice, not a real policy need.
“Oh my gosh, you don’t act based on data? You act on emotion?” Anchia, who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, said sarcastically. “And hate is a pretty good emotion, isn’t it?”
Villalba responded by noting previous episodes in which Anchia has said GOP-driven legislation on immigration is fueled by racism.
“You have stood on the front mic and impugned the good representatives, the men and women of this body, about how you feel they’re racist,” he said.
After the dust cleared, Anchia, who was proposing a symbolic amendment that would gut the bill, said, “What is this about? It’s not about ICE detainers. It’s not really about crime data. It’s really about the emotions that Jason spoke to and it’s whether we’re going to place those emotions in statute today.”
The amendment was defeated in a 90-52 vote.
Almost every amendment and procedural maneuver proposed by Democrats was defeated by a similar tally. A rare exception was an amendment by Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, that got the blessing of Senate Bill 4’s House sponsor, Fort Worth Republican Rep. Charlie Geren, and was approved overwhelmingly.
The amendment changes the process by which a city or county can be deemed a sanctuary city under the law, leading to financial penalties and the potential removal from office of local officials who implemented the sanctuary policy. Previously, the bill charged the Texas attorney general’s office with deciding which jurisdictions had run afoul of the law. Lucio’s amendment requires the attorney general to get court approval before green-lighting sanctions against a sanctuary city.
Impassioned pleas
Earlier in the day, Democrats made impassioned pleas to their GOP colleagues to abandon the legislation, including Rep. Ana Hernandez, D-Houston, who came to the U.S. illegally before obtaining citizenship and running for office.
“I know firsthand the impact that (Senate Bill 4) will have on many families … mothers that will be afraid to go to the grocery store,” she said. “I know how this bill will punish immigrants and push them into the shadows.”
Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, who is on a four-day fast to protest the bill, read profane social media messages she has received since beginning her fast.
“This is the sort of hate that our Latino community is already hearing,” Neave said. “Look into your hearts to realize the impact that this is going to have.”
Geren, however, said the bill wasn’t discriminatory because it targeted criminals, not members of a particular racial or ethnic group.
“This bill has no effect on illegal immigrants if they have not committed a crime or hanging out with someone who has,” he said.


  1. Agreed. I'm always surprised (I shouldn't be surprised) how chistianists [sic] betray their assumptions of ethics and turn the discourse of hate/fear into law such as #SB4 .

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