AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Critics of a Texas bill that would crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities" say Republican changes to soften the measure don't go nearly far enough.
Hundreds of people Wednesday again packed the Texas Capitol to speak against the measure that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has declared a priority. Some spoke only Spanish and urged lawmakers through translators to reconsider.
"I would like to ask you today, to testify against SB4 in hopes that you will understand that will break apart families," El Pasoan Nelly Miranda said.
The Senate last month passed a version of the bill that aims to punish cities and counties that don't cooperate with federal immigration agents. House Republicans are making changes that include allowing police officers to only inquire about immigration status if someone is arrested, rather than simply being detained.
"It is evident that Senate Bill 4 will limit the ability of the San Antonio Police Department and law enforcement agencies throughout the state to effectively protect the communities that they serve by eroding the public trust between the law enforcement community and the communities we serve," San Antonio Assistant Police Chief Anthony Trevino said.
Local governments are also no longer threatened with losing all state grant funding.
Democrats say the bill still invites intimidation and discrimination. Rep. Cesar J. Blanco opposes the bill.
"While I am glad that my bill to protect immigrant witnesses and victims of crimes was rolled into the committee substitute for SB 4, I remain wholeheartedly opposed to the overall bill. I will continue to work with my colleagues to try to kill this anti-immigrant bill. This bill is about politics, not public safety. El Paso is consistently ranked one of the safest cities in the United States and is home to over 200,000 immigrants, which is 5% of the entire immigrant population in Texas. This bill will not only drive a wedge between local law enforcement and immigrant communities but worse, tear up hardworking families. We should be working towards smart and compassionate policies that allow these residents to work and live out of the shadows, not drive them further into the darkness," Rep. Blanco said.
More than 600 people singed up to give their testimony Wednesday.
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