On Thursday, the House State Affairs Committee in Texas approved a bill that would prohibit law enforcement officers from asking immigrants about their legal status when they report abuse and crime. The bill would prohibit immigration checks, but it does not grant exemptions for criminal involvement.
Advocating undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows to report crime would not only serve to bring justice to the system quicker, but empower victims to take a stand against their perpetrators. The bill passage could likely deter the ability of abusive partners who use the threat of deportation to undermine their spouses or partners from reporting their crime in a similar way that the Senate immigration bill aims to do.
The bill presents a positive shift from previous anti-immigrant House bills, such as the 2011 “no sanctuary city” bill that would give enforcement officers the authority to inquiry about legal status. Once regarded as proxies to ICE officers, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo would like this bill to help change the public perception that law enforcement officials are there to investigate crime rather than to detain people.