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Senate Committee on State Affairs Hears Testimony on SB 4, Anti-Sanctuary Cities Legislation

The Senate Committee on State Affairs listened to testimony from over 300 people Thursday on Senate Bill 4. Senate Bill 4 is an anti-sanctuary cities bill that gives broad latitude to local law enforcement, blurring the line between federal immigration officers and local law enforcement agencies. The bill also contains harsh punishments for cities and local entities that are determined to have violated the policies laid out in the bill.

Two Texas Impact board members, the Rev. Dr. Whit Bodman and the Rev. Krystal Leedy, both gave testimony against SB 4. Rev. Dr. Bodman said, "Community trust is difficult to build, but easy to destroy. It is our great fear that SB4 will work to fracture the bonds that so many of us have tried so hard to build-up; therefore, we ask you to reject it.” Watch Rev. Dr. Bodman's testimony here.

Rev. Krystal Leedy spoke passionately about the danger that cutting state funds has on communities. Rev. Leedy said, "As clergy, we routinely minister to parishioners affected by family violence. By withholding grant funds for victims of family violence as ransom, you are instructing law enforcement to prioritize deportations over the vulnerable victims of family violence who are crying out for justice." After Rev. Leedy's testimony, Senator Lucio asked her if she knew of any faith based organizations that have come out in support of this bill. Rev. Leedy said that she did not. Watch Rev. Leedy's testimony here.

Public testimony came from every sector and every walk of life. Business leaders, law enforcement, faith leaders, attorneys, students, and even an eleven-year-old girl all testified during the hearing. The overwhelming majority of witnesses testified against SB 4, citing the chilling effect that the bill would have on cooperation between law enforcement and immigrant communities, relating personal stories about the fear of being undocumented or having an undocumented family member, and describing the inherent danger the bill would have on law abiding immigrants.

Video testimony highlights include:

After carefully weighing hours of testimony, the Committee promptly passed SB4 on a 7-2 vote. Next it will be heard by the full Senate, possibly as early as next Tuesday.

We know that hundreds of Texas Impact members called the committee to express opposition to SB 4—thank you so much for that great work. Now we need to keep the calls coming.

Please call your state senator (Find out who represents you here) and let him or her know that you oppose SB4. If your Senator is a member of the Senate State Affairs Committee, please ask them how they made their decision to vote on the bill, and whether hours of testimony factored in any way into their decision.

See all Immigration post.