Senate Bill 4, signed by Governor Greg Abbott on May 7, becomes effective September 1, 2017. SB 4 imposes stiff penalties on local governments and local police forces that restrict when officers can inquire about subjects’ immigration status, and on county jails that don’t cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “detainer” requests, which are meant to facilitate deportation proceedings for inmates suspected of being unauthorized immigrants.
In comments to the Austin American-Statesman, Luis H. Zayas, dean of the School of Social Work, described the effect of SB 4 for citizen children — that is, children born in the United States of unauthorized immigrant parents:
“They walk around vigilant as to what could happen next. Every day they worry, ‘my daddy or mommy won’t come home, they will be arrested, detained, sent to Mexico or another country.’ There’s never a moment’s rest except when the whole family is home and they are alone and they let those worries wash away, but always, in the back of their minds, is the knock on the door and what that knock could mean.”
“They are the forgotten citizens,” Zayas added. “We need to protect our citizens from harm. That’s the role of government. We have to find ways to keep families together, preferably in this country.”