Bishops Call on Gov. Abbott to Veto SB 4

May 5, 2017

AUSTIN — The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is disappointed with the legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 4.  As passed, the bill does not help peace officers build trust with the migrant community. Therefore, we call on Governor Abbott to veto the bill.  We understand that the Governor’s original goal was to ensure that local sheriffs and police did not undermine the immigration laws enforced by the federal government.  The bill exceeds this goal, because it also allows local peace officers to inquire into the legal status of people who are detained, rather than just those who are arrested. With such a law, people who have done nothing to merit arrest or citation can be asked for their legal status.  The bill will decrease trust from our immigrant community in our law enforcement officers.

Our clergy, religious brothers and sisters, and laity have a long history of involvement in serving migrants. Our ministry compels us to speak out on the issue of immigration reform, which is a moral issue that impacts human rights. We continue to advocate for more just and comprehensive laws related to immigration, which includes reunification of families and creating more just pathways to citizenship. Any enforcement measures should have the goal of targeting dangerous criminals for incarceration and deportation. SB 4 does not meet these standards.  We ask Texans to join us in praying for our leaders, peace officers, migrants, and citizens. May we give thanks for the good laws of our state, and tirelessly work to ensure that our laws always protect each of our God-given rights.