Friday, March 10, 2017

From June 2014: DPS with new border operation

DPS Addresses New Border Operation

By Julián AguilarJune 19, 2014 2:55 PM|Jun. 19th, 2014

Updated, 2:50 p.m., June 19:
A day after state leaders announced a directive to the Texas Department of Public Safety to increase its efforts along the border with Mexico, the DPS discussed its new mission, saying it would not include enforcing immigration laws, as it lacks that authority.
During the current operation, the DPS will instead partner with local and federal authorities on a round-the-clock basis to “deter and disrupt drug and human trafficking, and other border-related crimes.”
“When our state law enforcement officers make contact with someone [during a lawful encounter] who is admittedly or suspected to be in the country illegally, that individual is immediately referred to the appropriate federal authorities,” DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said in an email.
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Asked when a trooper might suspect someone is in the country illegally, Vinger added, “It is based on reasonable suspicion encompassing the totality of the lawful encounter. Whether someone is in the country illegally will be determined by the appropriate federal authorities, not DPS. Racial profiling is illegal and prohibited by DPS policy.”
Vinger also said that the agency would not establish roadside checkpoints, which were a controversial component of a law enforcement surge in the Rio Grande Valley last year. Some border residents and lawmakers suspected the checkpoints were being used for immigration-enforcement purposes, and not solely for warrant checks and other public safety measures.
Citing concerns for “operational and law enforcement” safety, Vinger said the department would not divulge specific details of the upcoming border operation, which the state’s leadership insisted should begin immediately.
“However, we can assure Texans that DPS will work together with our law enforcement partners to combat the ruthless Mexican cartels who are preying upon our communities and who continue to commit heinous and unimaginable crimes on both sides of the border,” he said.
Original story, June 19:
The Texas Department of Public Safety has been instructed to immediately increase its efforts to secure the Texas-Mexico border with a $1.3 million-per-week operation, the offices of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry announced Wednesday evening.
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The increased enforcement is in response to the recent surge of undocumented immigrants breaching the Texas-Mexico border, including more than 33,500 unaccompanied minors who have been apprehended in the U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector since October.
“The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol … has apprehended more illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley in the first eight months of the current federal fiscal year (over 160,000) than it did for all of fiscal year 2013 (154,453). In May 2014 alone, USCBP reported apprehending more than 1,100 illegal immigrants per day in the Rio Grande Valley,” the state leaders said in a joint news release.
“This year, like last year, more than half of the individuals apprehended at the Texas-Mexico border by USCBP are from countries other than Mexico," they added. "Additionally, 34,000 unaccompanied alien children (UAC) have been apprehended in Texas so far this year, with estimates that number will reach 90,000 by the end of the fiscal year. By comparison, 28,352 [unaccompanied minors] were apprehended in fiscal year 2013.”
The U.S. Border Patrol has said most of the migrants coming during the recent surge are from Central America.
The state leaders' announcement comes on the same day that U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn wrote U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson seeking answers about the safeguards in place to prevent the unaccompanied minors from ending up in the hands of sexual predators or other alleged criminals. By law, minors must be processed and released by U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement within 72 hours and turned over to U.S. Health and Human Services authorities or guardians.
“Does DHS have any measures in places to track unaccompanied children after they are placed in the custody of HHS or a guardian designated by that Department?” they wrote. “If not, then how does your Department help ensure that they do not end up in the hands of predators or sex offenders? If the child does not show up for their immigration court proceedings, do DHS officials check up on them to make sure that they are safe?" 
Details about when the state's new border security plan will begin or what it entails were not specified in the statements from the Republican leaders, and calls and emails to Texas DPS officials seeking comment were not immediately returned.
“With this letter, you are directed to plan and execute a surge operation of increased law enforcement in Texas border counties. You are authorized to utilize all existing appropriated funds toward this operation,” Perry, Dewhurst and Straus said in a letter to DPS director Steve McCraw. “To the extent necessary, we will utilize our authority as governor and as co-chairs of the Legislative Budget Board to facilitate adjustments to the DPS budget until next session. The cost for this operation will need to be addressed by the next legislature in the supplemental appropriations bill.”
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The announcement comes after some lawmakers called for a special session of the Texas Legislature to provide money to address the issue. A special session would not be required, however, if DPS uses funds already appropriated for the agency.
This week, Dewhurst called for a repeat of a recent operation called “Operation Strong Safety,” which added more state-based security in the Rio Grande Valley.
In the letter sent to McCraw, Perry, Dewhurst and Straus indicated an expanded version of the operation should be considered by the DPS.
“The results achieved through this operation need to be continued and implemented over a wider area. Clearly, committing more of your resources will not end the humanitarian issues on the border, nor is it a complete solution to what is ultimately a federal responsibility,” they wrote. “But the professional law enforcement resources at the Texas Department of Public Safety can reduce crime, ensure the safety of Texas citizens and support the strained resources of local law enforcement and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”
Straus, the only member of the leadership team who will return to Austin next legislative session, addressed potential cost concerns in a letter to state representatives.
“I also want to be clear that this approach is not simply writing a blank check to DPS,” he wrote. “We will closely monitor and evaluate the costs and results of this effort. In my conversations with Director McCraw, I have made it clear that I would support his assessment and recommendations, while remaining prudent with taxpayer dollars. That is why I am directing the House Committees on Appropriations and Homeland Security and Public Safety to monitor and assess the cost and outcomes of this operation between now and next January.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, praised the decision. Abbott wrote Johnson, the secretary of DHS, last week requesting $30 million in emergency funding for state-based border operations.
“The Department of Public Safety will have the tools and resources it needs to curtail illegal smuggling, horrific human trafficking and cartel imported crime,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “Securing the border will reduce the illegal activity which – in turn – will promote the legitimate trade that helps make Texas the leading exporting state in the country.”
The move is likely to draw opposition from Democrats, specifically border representatives, who have said that more “boots on the ground” will not address the key causes of the migration.
“What is needed are not more 'boots on the ground' or any other euphemisms for the militarization that both impacts border residents' daily lives and is inadequate to deal with the specific issue at hand,” state Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, said in a statement last week in response to Abbott’s request.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte added: “Washington must tackle the root causes of this crisis: weak governments, entrenched poverty and the growing power of violent criminal actors in Central America. Texans have a long tradition of looking after our neighbors in times of need. These too are children of God. State and federal government should follow suit, and partner with our faith-based organizations, nonprofits, food banks, and health providers to help these children.” 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

SB 4

Senado de Texas aprueba legislación anti-"santuario", enviando un proyecto de ley a la Cámara
Por Julián AguilarFeb. 7, 2017 7:34 PM | Feb. 7º, 2017

Nota del editor: Esta historia fue actualizada el miércoles, 8 de febrero de 2017, para reflejar la votación final del Senado en el proyecto de ley 4 del Senado.

El Senado de Texas controlado por los republicanos dio su sello final de aprobación el miércoles a un proyecto de ley que gut fondos de entidades locales y estatales que no hacen cumplir las leyes de inmigración.

El proyecto de ley 4 del Senado, presentado por el senador estatal Charles Perry, castigaría a las entidades gubernamentales locales y estatales ya los campus universitarios que se negaran a cooperar con los funcionarios federales de inmigración oa hacer cumplir las leyes de inmigración. La votación del miércoles fue 20-10 a lo largo de las líneas partidarias, con el senador estatal José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, ausente. Rodríguez estuvo presente un día antes, cuando el Senado lo aprobó tentativamente en una votación de 20-11.

El proyecto de ley también castigaría a los gobiernos locales si sus agencias de cumplimiento de la ley no cumplen con las solicitudes, conocidas como detenciones, de funcionarios federales de Inmigración y Aduanas para entregar a los inmigrantes bajo custodia para su posible deportación. Las entidades en violación se verían despojadas de la subvención estatal y también estarían sujetas a multas civiles. Los jefes de departamento también podrían ser procesados ​​si violan las disposiciones de la ley. El proyecto de ley no se aplica a las víctimas o testigos de delitos, escuelas públicas o distritos hospitalarios.

La legislación fue listada el mes pasado como uno de los artículos de emergencia del gobernador Greg Abbott, que permite a los legisladores votar sobre el tema antes del tradicional período de espera de 60 días para escuchar los proyectos de ley en la sala de ambas cámaras. El teniente gobernador Dan Patrick también consideró el proyecto de ley una prioridad legislativa.

El tema atrajo la atención nacional después de que Abbott cumpliera con su promesa este mes de recortar los fondos estatales para el condado de Travis después de que el alguacil del condado, Sally Hernández, promulgara una política que refuerza la cooperación de su departamento con ICE.

La votación del miércoles siguió a un largo debate el martes en el que la mayoría de las enmiendas ofrecidas por los demócratas fueron derrotadas. Como lo hizo durante una audiencia de 16 horas sobre el proyecto de ley la semana pasada, Perry se mantuvo firme durante el debate del martes, rechazando las acusaciones de que su proyecto de ley era una "deportación" después de que los demócratas insistieran en que la política arrojaría una red amplia y La gente de la trampa en el país ilegal pero que son de otra manera respetuosos de la ley.

Perry dijo que se trataba del estado de derecho y asegurarse de que cada agencia de cumplimiento de la ley sigue los mismos procedimientos. Agregó que incluso si una persona se encuentra ilegalmente en el país, no tendría motivos para temer su legislación si no cometen delitos.

"Este proyecto de ley asegura que es previsible que nuestras leyes se apliquen sin prejuicios", sin importar quién está bajo custodia, dijo. También agregó que si un gobierno local pierde dinero porque adoptó una política de "santuario", la culpa está en ellos.

Perry modificó su proyecto de ley el martes para añadir duras sanciones civiles y penales para las entidades que no cumplen con las disposiciones del proyecto de ley. Una enmienda haría que un jefe de departamento cuya agencia violara las disposiciones del SB 4 sujetas a procesamiento penal en forma de un delito menor de clase A. Otro añadió una disposición que sometería a la agencia local a sanciones civiles, incluyendo una multa de al menos $ 1,000 por la primera ofensa y $ 25,000 por cada violación posterior.

La severidad de las propuestas llevó a la senadora estatal Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston a preguntarle a Perry hasta qué punto estaba dispuesto a ir.

"¿Qué va a hacer la siguiente [enmienda]? ¿Toma a su primogénito? ", Preguntó.

La Cámara Alta, también previsiblemente derribada por las votaciones partidarias, votó varias enmiendas que los demócratas ofrecieron para que el proyecto de ley fuera más aceptable para sus electores, incluyendo una medida de la senadora estatal Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, que habría excluido los campus universitarios. También se rechazó una enmienda del senador estatal José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, que buscaba exigir a los oficiales de paz que aprendieran la ley de inmigración, al igual que otra del senador estatal Eddie Lucio Jr. que habría prohibido la detención de una persona Sólo porque él o ella estaba en el país ilegalmente.

García también pidió a Perry que retire una sección del proyecto de ley que castigaría a una entidad local por "respaldar" una política que prohíbe o desalienta el cumplimiento de la ley de inmigración. García dijo que la sección podría ser una violación del derecho de un funcionario electo a la libertad de expresión y podría ser interpretada ampliamente.

Antes de que la Cámara comenzara a votar sobre las enmiendas, los senadores debatieron ciertos aspectos del proyecto de ley por más de tres horas. Los republicanos aprovecharon el tiempo para reiterar que el proyecto de ley, tal como fue presentado, se enfrentaría a los desafíos judiciales que pudieran plantearse sobre cuestiones de constitucionalidad.

Ese debate fue precedido por un memo que el fiscal general Ken Pax Envió a Perry, al teniente gobernador Dan Patrick ya la presidenta del Comité de Asuntos Estatales, Joan Huffman, R-Houston, en la cual Paxton dijo que las preocupaciones sobre la posición legal del proyecto de ley eran exageradas.

"Nuestra revisión de la ley concluye que la SB 4 es constitucional, existen métodos viables para que las entidades cubiertas eviten la responsabilidad en relación con los detenidos inválidos, y el resto de las preocupaciones legales son infundadas", dijo en la carta. "SB 4 haría grandes progresos para mantener a las comunidades seguras, requiriendo que las autoridades estatales y locales cooperen con las agencias federales mientras se encargan de ejecutar fielmente las leyes de inmigración de los Estados Unidos".

Durante el debate, Perry también dijo que la medida sería la primera legislación que codifique las protecciones para las víctimas o testigos de crímenes que acuerdan cooperar con la policía. Eso ocurrió después de que legisladores demócratas dijeron que a pesar de que las protecciones están en su lugar, las comunidades de inmigrantes seguirían operando bajo una manta de miedo si llegaran a la policía por cualquier razón, incluyendo reportar un crimen.

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Perry dijo que la información errónea que se pedalea sobre el proyecto de ley podría hacer que sea más difícil para la policía obtener testigos o víctimas para cooperar. Pero dijo que dejó la puerta abierta para una "oportunidad de oro" para que las fuerzas del orden expliquen a la comunidad inmigrante lo que realmente hace el proyecto de ley.

El senador estatal John Whitmire, D-Houston, dijo que aunque los legisladores podrían estar familiarizados con los matices del proyecto de ley, el público en general no lo es y los oficiales de la ley de todo el estado han dicho repetidamente que obstaculiza sus esfuerzos para investigar crímenes y mantener Las calles seguras.

"Puede ser una pena que la gente tenga miedo. Pero eso no cambia el hecho de que la gente tenga miedo ", dijo Whitmire. "Estoy escuchando a los expertos. Puede ser una pena que se sientan de esa manera, pero es absolutamente cierto. "

Después de la votación preliminar del martes, Abbott elogió el SB 4 en un comunicado.

"La acción de hoy en el Senado ayuda a asegurar que los sheriffs y funcionarios de todo Texas cumplan con las leyes federales de inmigración y cumplan con las solicitudes de detención de inmigrantes y encarcelados que mantienen a criminales peligrosos fuera de nuestras calles", dijo en parte la declaración. "Quiero agradecer al Senador Perry por su liderazgo en este tema y espero que el pasaje final en el Senado sea mañana".

El proyecto de ley ahora se dirige a la Casa de Texas, aunque no está claro si la Cámara Baja acepta el proyecto de ley tal como está presentado actualmente. El representante estatal Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, presentó un proyecto de ley de acompañamiento a la propuesta original de Perry, pero la Casa de Texas aún no ha nombrado comités y no se mueve tan rápido en esta - o cualquier otra legislación - como es el Senado.

Texas Senate Bill 4

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Texas Senate approves anti-"sanctuary" legislation, sending bill to House

By Julián AguilarFeb. 7, 2017 7:34 PM|Feb. 7th, 2017

Editor's note: This story was updated on Wednesday, February 8, 2017, to reflect the Senate's final vote on Senate Bill 4.
The Republican-controlled Texas Senate gave its final stamp of approval on Wednesday to a bill that would gut funding from local and state entities that don’t enforce immigration laws.
Senate Bill 4, filed by state Sen. Charles Perry, would punish local and state government entities and college campuses that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials or enforce immigration laws. Wednesday's vote was 20-10 along party lines, with state Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, absent. Rodriguez was present a day earlier, when the Senate tentatively approved it on a 20-11 vote.
The bill would also punish local governments if their law enforcement agencies fail to honor requests, known as detainers, from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to hand over immigrants in custody for possible deportation. Entities in violation would be stripped of state grant funding and also be subject to civil fines. Department heads could also be subject to criminal prosecution if they violate the provisions of the bill. The bill doesn’t apply to victims of or witnesses to crimes, public schools or hospital districts.
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The legislation was listed last month as one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency items, which allows lawmakers to vote on the issue before the traditional 60-day waiting period to hear bills on the floor of either chamber. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrickalso deemed the bill a legislative priority.
The issue garnered national attention after Abbott made good on his promise this month to cut state funding for Travis County after that county's sheriff, Sally Hernandez, enacted a policy that greatly rolls back her department’s cooperation with ICE.
Wednesday’s vote followed an hours long debate on Tuesday where most of the amendments offered by Democrats were defeated. Like he did during a 16-hour committee hearing on the bill last week, Perry held his ground during the floor debate Tuesday, pushing back against accusations that his bill was a “deportation” bill after Democrats insisted the policy would cast a wide net and snare people in the country illegally but who are otherwise law abiding.
Perry said it was about the rule of law and making sure every law enforcement agency follows the same procedures. He added that even if a person is in the country illegally, he or she would not have a reason to fear his legislation if they didn’t commit crimes.
“This bill ensures that there is predictability that our laws are applied without prejudice” no matter who is in custody, he said. He also added that if a local government loses money because it adopted a "sanctuary" policy, the blame is on them.
Perry amended his bill Tuesday to add tough civil and criminal penalties for entities that don’t comply with the bill’s provisions. One amendment would make a department head whose agency violates the provisions of SB 4 subject to criminal prosecution in the form of a class A misdemeanor. Another added a provision that would subject the local agency to civil penalties, including a fine at least $1,000 for the first offense and $25,000 for each subsequent violation.
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The severity of the proposals prompted state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston to ask Perry how far he was willing to go.
“What’s the next [amendment] going to do? Take their first born?” she asked.
The upper chamber also predictably shot down by party line votes several amendments Democrats offered to make the bill more palatable to their constituents, including a measure by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, that would have excluded college campuses. An amendment by state Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, which sought to require peace officers to learn immigration law was also voted down, as was another by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. that would have prohibited the arrest of a person only because he or she was in the country illegally.
Garcia also asked Perry to remove a section of the bill that would punish a local entity for “endorsing” a policy that prohibits or discourages enforcing immigration law. Garcia said that section could be a violation of an elected official’s right to free speech and could be interpreted broadly.
Before the chamber began voting on the amendments, senators debated certain aspects of the bill for more than three hours. Republicans used the time to reiterate that the bill, as filed, would stand up to court challenges that might be brought over questions of constitutionality.
That debate was preceded by a memo attorney general Ken Paxton sent Perry, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and State Affairs Committee Chair Joan Huffman, R-Houston, in which Paxton said concerns over the bill’s legal standing were overblown.
“Our review of the law concludes CSSB 4 is constitutional, there are viable methods for covered entities to avoid liability regarding invalid detainers, and the remainder of the legal concerns are unfounded,” he said in the letter. “CSSB 4 would make great strides to keep communities secure by requiring state and local law enforcement to cooperate with federal agencies as they take care to faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States.”
During the debate, Perry also said that the measure would be the first-ever legislation to codify protections for victims of or witnesses to crimes that agree to cooperate with law enforcement. That came after Democratic lawmakers said that even though the protections are in place, the immigrant communities would still operate under a blanket of fear if they reached out to law enforcement for any reason, including reporting a crime.
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Perry said that the misinformation being pedaled about the bill might actually make it more difficult for police to get witnesses or victims to cooperate. But he said that left the door open for a “golden opportunity” for law enforcement to explain to the immigrant community what the bill actually does. 
State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said that although lawmakers might be familiar with the nuances of the bill, the general public isn't and law enforcement officers from across the state have said repeatedly that hinders their efforts to investigate crimes and keep the streets safe.
“It may be a shame that people are afraid. But it doesn’t change the fact that people are afraid,” Whitmire said. “I am listening to the experts. It may be a shame they feel that way, but it’s absolutely true.”
After Tuesday's preliminary vote, Abbott praised SB 4 in a statement.
"Today's action in the Senate helps ensure that Sheriffs and officials across Texas comply with federal immigration laws and honor Immigration and Custom Enforcement detainer requests that keep dangerous criminals off of our streets," the statement read in part. "I want to thank Senator Perry for his leadership on this issue and look forward to final passage in the Senate tomorrow.”
The bill now heads to the Texas House, though whether the lower chamber accepts the bill as it's currently presented isn't clear. State Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, filed a companion bill to Perry’s original proposal, but the Texas House hasn't yet named committees and isn't moving as fast on this — or any other legislation — as the Senate is.
Read related Tribune coverage: 
  • The state’s attorney general tried to ease concerns Tuesday over whether a state-based immigration enforcement bill could be successfully challenged in courts.
  • The Texas Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-2 along party lines early Friday morning to advance a bill that would punish local government entities and college campuses that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials.