You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Adler: ‘I’m glad we’re going to court’ over SB 4 immigration law


Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who hasn’t been shy about his opposition to Senate Bill 4’s ban on so-called “sanctuary cities,” took issue Thursday with the state’s effort to “shut us up by threatening our jobs if we don’t endorse a policy we know is wrong.”

Those comments came in a guest column in which Adler said the newly-signed law and the state’s subsequent lawsuit against Austin and Travis County officials are intended to have a chilling effect on officials who disagree with the state on immigration policy.

“I was elected by the people of Austin and will keep speaking out for them,” Adler wrote. “No one, elected or not, should ever feel pressured by the government not to speak their mind, even as they otherwise follow the law.”

The mayor noted his meetings with federal officials, including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who indicated the Trump administration won’t punish Travis County for disregarding federal requests to detain local inmates suspected of being in the country illegally. After taking office this year, Travis County Sheriff adopted a new policy limiting cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, only honoring immigration detainers for inmates charged with murder, capital murder, aggravated sexual assault and human trafficking.

“No federal official has told me that Austin has been breaking any federal law,” Adler wrote. “However, the Texas Legislature doesn’t want to be limited by federal law.”

POLITIFACT: Greg Abbott falsely says Travis County not enforcing law

Here is the full text of Adler’s op-ed piece:

For decades, the Texas Legislature has been a backseat driver, second guesser and insufferable micromanager to Austin. Now, our Legislature and governor have crossed the line by imperiling our most basic freedoms. Not only did state lawmakers recently pass the governor’s sanctuary city bill that went way beyond federal immigration law, but the Texas attorney general just filed suit against me and others for speaking out against it.

We speak out because, if this law goes into effect, Austin and other Texas cities will be forced to make our communities less safe. And we’re speaking out even though this new law would, incredibly enough, allow our state attorney general to remove local elected officials from office if they endorse a different policy, even one that’s in accordance with federal immigration law.

Austin is one of the safest cities in the country, largely because our police focus on keeping all of us safe regardless of where we come from or how we got here. And it’s not just us; cities with similar policies toward immigrants have lower crime rates, higher household income rates and lower unemployment rates. What we do works!

The new Texas sanctuary city law undoes that. Police tell us that the fear that they might ask about immigration status has already made people less willing to report crimes, undoing years of work to establish trust with our immigrant communities.

Both U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly have assured me that the president’s priority with undocumented immigrants is to focus on dangerous criminals. That’s what Austin is doing. The attorney general told me that cities where police don’t require immigration checks or aren’t forced to accept voluntary warrantless detainer requests are not “sanctuary cities” subject to sanctions. No federal official has told me that Austin has been breaking any federal law.

However, the Texas Legislature doesn’t want to be limited by federal law. There are many reasons states aren’t allowed to set their own immigration policies. A Central American president, for example, should not need to meet individually with 50 different governors. I believe Congress set immigration requirements just where it did because it had policy or constitutional priorities that the Texas Legislature does not share. On this matter, Congress and the United States Constitution should be in control.

Police chiefs all over the country tell us that statutes like Texas’ new law will drive people into the shadows and make Austin less safe. I said that I expected that this law would be challenged in court. And for endorsing this view, the Texas attorney general has sued me for speaking out.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad we’re going to court. Since the Legislature went into session in January, Austin has had to sit on the sidelines while state lawmakers have treated our community’s safety like a political football. Now we get to have a federal judge decide whether the United States or one state determines federal immigration policy. We are eager to protect local police discretion to keep our communities safe and to protect individual constitutional rights.

But what is particularly worrisome for me and other mayors is the part of the law and the lawsuit intended to shut us up by threatening our jobs if we don’t endorse a policy we know is wrong. I was elected by the people of Austin and will keep speaking out for them. No one, elected or not, should ever feel pressured by the government not to speak their mind, even as they otherwise follow the law.

I will do my best to keep Austin safe and will go to court to do so. That’s the job I was elected to do, and I’ll keep doing it as long as the people keep me in office.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

19-year-old shoots, kills man trying to break into apartment
19-year-old shoots, kills man trying to break into apartment

Police said a teenager shot and killed a man Monday as he attempted to break into the teen’s apartment in DeKalb County, Georgia.  The 19-year-old told police he heard someone banging on the door of his apartment and trying to kick it in.  He grabbed a gun and shot through the door, authorities said.  Police found the intruder...
BEER BATTLE: Man accused of hurling Dos Equis cans at clerk who tried to stop theft, police say
BEER BATTLE: Man accused of hurling Dos Equis cans at clerk who tried to stop theft, police say

An Austin man is accused of stealing beers and throwing them at the store clerk who tried to stop him, according to court documents. A man who police identified as 47-year-old Douglas Wright Jr. was heading out the door of the Wells Grocery bodega on the 1900 block of Rosewood Avenue in East Austin with a stolen 12-pack of Dos Equis when the store...
Where to celebrate the Fourth of July in Austin
Where to celebrate the Fourth of July in Austin

Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday this year, which means you totally have an excuse to celebrate all weekend long. Here are some of the top events in Austin, from fireworks and festivals to live music, dancing and great food.  First of all, click here for a definitive list of fireworks displays in Central Texas, including Willie Nelson’s...
UT DALLAS BOMB THREAT: University officials say threat was a hoax, deem it safe to return to buildings 
UT DALLAS BOMB THREAT: University officials say threat was a hoax, deem it safe to return to buildings 

University of Texas at Dallas officials say a bomb threat received on campus Tuesday afternoon was a hoax.  University police had asked staff, students and visitors to evacuate the premises, but have determined it’s now safe to return to buildings and parking structures.  No other details were immediately available. 
Williamson County sheriff warns about telephone scam
Williamson County sheriff warns about telephone scam

A fraudulent caller is using a phone number from the Williamson County sheriff’s office to scam people out of money, officials said Tuesday. The caller is using the sheriff’s phone numbers at 512-943-1300 or 512-943-1100 and falsely identifying himself as a deputy, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. The caller...
More Stories