Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar says he will follow the newly upheld Texas law banning 'sanctuary cities,' but he tells News Radio 1200 WOAI he will not allow racial or ethnic profiling by his deputies, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"Racial profiling is still against the law, it is still against our policies, and we are just going to remind our officer of that," Salazar said.
S.B. 4, which was largely upheld by a Federal Appeals Court on Tuesday, allows Sheriffs and other local officials to be removed from office and even fined for failing to cooperate with federal immigration officials. Salazar says his office has always had a good relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and will continue to have.
But the provision which is causing the most concern is the one allowing local officers, like Sheriff's Deputies, to 'inquire about the immigration status' of people who are 'detained,' which could be even pulled over for a traffic ticket.
There have been fears that the language will lead to Hispanic motorists being grilled by law enforcement and even taken in for questioning, or even being required to show a birth certificate or a green card to the officer to prove legal status.
Salazar wants to assure the public that will not happen.
"The long story short, will will not be allowing racial profiling."
Salazar stresses his office will not detain immigrants if they did not commit another crime, and he says his deputies don't have the authority to arrest a person for being in the U.S. illegally.
"There are already safeguards, we are not allowed to racially profile, and our deputies know that."
Salazar says not only would aggressively grilling motorists on their immigration status take time which is badly needed for law enforcement duties, but it could leave Bexar County taxpayers on the hook for hefty damage awards in lawsuits alleging racial profiling.
Opponents of S.B. 4 said yesterday that is one avenue they will not take following the Appeals Court decision---groups like the ACLU say they will be ready to file civil lawsuits against jurisdictions who use S.B. 4 as an excuse to harass minority motorists or pedestrians.