EL PASO, Texas - El Paso County Commissioners are planning to review the application of the controversial SB4 law, also known as the Sanctuary Cities law requiring law enforcement officers to be able to ask about citizenship.
El Paso County is in a special position regarding the new sanctuary cities law SB4. Back in 2006, the county was taken to federal court being accused of racial profiling, and it’s there that conflict could come up.
“In the settlement agreement the county agreed to have policies in place that wouldn’t enforce, or in essence, that wouldn’t racially profile, and it had to be memorialized in a policy,” said County Commissioner Vince Perez.
Cities and counties who try to stop SB4 from being enforced could be hit with a $25,000 fine per day and even removal from office.
The problem, according to some local groups, comes up when possible undocumented immigrants are automatically assumed to be Hispanic.
“Every latino can be targeted. That means that even if you are a US citizen, you might be approached and questioned about your legal status,” said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights.
“If we enforce SB4, it puts us in a position, speaking for myself, where it puts us in contradiction to the settlement from 2006,” Perez said.
SB4 doesn’t automatically require that all law enforcement officers ask for citizenship documents at every interaction, but it does penalize those who try to officially stop any officer from asking.
“From my understanding it allows them to, but it takes the discretion away from police chiefs,” said Perez.
This is where those $25 thousand a day would come into play.
For now, County commissioners will review their legal obligations and options, waiting to see what should be done.
The County Commissioners will review the subject in their regular Monday morning meeting at 9:30 a.m.
City Council members will also touch the subject Tuesday, according to the meeting agenda.