Gutierrez: “Senate Bills 3 and 4 target Latinos and people of color.”
For Immediate Release: November 10, 2023
AUSTIN, TEXAS – Last night, Texas Senator Roland Gutierrez debated against Senate Bill 3, an Operation Lone Star funding bill that expands Abbott’s border wall and death trap buoys and specifically includes money for use in the community of Colony Ridge despite hoax of higher crime rates, and Senate Bill 4, a bill that would grant law enforcement officers wide-ranging powers to profile, detain, and deport Latinos and people of color.
Gutierrez introduced an amendment striking mention of Colony Ridge from S.B. 3, citing law enforcement testimony that Colony Ridge has lower crime than surrounding areas and that Governor Abbott should not be creating special session items from conspiracy theories.
“I think it is a disgrace that we sit here as stewards of this money, and tell the taxpayers of Texas that we’re going to blow $40 million dollars of their money on some hoax that the Governor elevated on his soapbox.”
“This is a community of Mexican U.S. citizens, and residents, and a community of immigrants from all across this country. And all of you sit here and you disgrace this country with language like this.”
Gutierrez also debunked Texas Republicans’ overall response at the Texas border and demonstrated why S.B. 4 is unconstitutional and only exacerbates challenges for Texans of color, immigration, and border security.
“What we’ve done at the border is add 400 yards of buoy in the shallow water where a woman and her child drowned. People are dying along the river and getting caught in this razor wire along the border.”
“All these migrants want to do is walk to a port of entry and claim asylum, but they can’t do that with this bill. They get slapped with a private trespassing charge and sent to jail. Federal law states if you come into this country, no matter where you come in, you can claim asylum for up to one year. This bill does not allow migrants to do that,” said Senator Gutierrez, stating that S.B. 4 will interfere with federal law.
“When a person arrives at the border, they sit down with a federal officer and they are asked if they are coming here for asylum. They get a ‘credible fear interview’ and in that scenario, the court or an immigration officer determines if there’s a credible threat to that person’s safety. But here, there’s no officer that’s doing that. This bill is going to be challenged on its constitutionality.”
Gutierrez asserted that S.B. 4 specifically profiles Latinos and people of color and fails to define the elements under which an officer could establish probable cause to determine whether or not a person is an undocumented immigrant.
“This bill creates a new crime for illegal entry into the country, where if an officer is driving down the road, and sees a bunch of brown people working on a roof, he could just stop and claim ‘probable cause’ to come and harass these people about their immigration status. There’s nothing here that says the cop has to suspect that they’ve committed some other crime.”
Senate Bill 3 passed 18-10 and will continue to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senate Bill 4 passed 17-11, continuing to the Senate Committee on State Affairs.