Texas sheriffs: SB4 burdens law enforcement, local taxpayers


We believe locally elected sheriffs know the needs of their communities better than state and national leaders who are currently trying to tie our hands.

Our communities each have unique public safety and law enforcement needs that should not be undermined by state, unfunded mandates as authored in Senate Bill 4.

If passed, SB 4 would coerce local law enforcement to dedicate frequently scarce resources — such as jail space, on-duty officers and local tax dollars — to a job that is supposed to be done and funded by the federal government. While it is in the interest of federal agencies to let local law enforcement do its job, the costs will be entirely passed onto you, the local taxpayers. Federal enforcement should not be paid for with our local taxes. Our communities’ tax dollars should be used to invest in our local priorities and programs. It is at the local level that we are aware of the most pressing issues facing each of our Texas communities.

A law enforcement official’s foremost priority is to protect and serve our local communities, which we have done while maintaining cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The author of SB 4, state Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), has accused our local departments of “perpetuating instability” because they are not focused on new and controversial federal immigration mandates. The reality is that SB 4 would perpetuate instability by making it impossible for us to effectively direct and manage our deputies. Immigrants who are here are significantly less likely to commit crimes. In fact, FBI crime statistics have found that labeled “sanctuary” cities experience lower rates of all crime types, including homicides. Further, we rely on all members of our community — regardless of race, religion or national origin — to report crimes. We cannot drive crime victims and witnesses into the shadows without undermining local public safety.

SB 4 provides zero support to local officials. In addition to opening up law enforcement departments and officers to costly litigation, the bill would force local taxpayers to shoulder the cost of ICE detainers. In 2016 alone, Texas county compliance with ICE detainers cost local taxpayers $61 million. Despite the federal government’s promises, they have only reimbursed a tiny fraction of the costs to local communities and counties. Ultimately, it is our local taxpayers that will pay even more for this unfunded state mandate. SB 4 robs our local communities of local tax dollars while hampering our ability to allocate our scarce resources to protect our communities from the largest threats facing our local neighborhoods and populations.

SB 4 is wrong because it fundamentally functions with the assumption that the state government knows what is best for our local communities. It also ignores our familiarity with our own cities and counties — and how we keep them safe. Our government is ideally designed to have the power of federal officials balanced with state and local authority. This bill is a result of anti-immigrant grandstanding and will strip local law enforcement of our designated power and ability to protect and serve our communities. We ask that the Texas House of Representatives reject SB 4 and any initiative to force local law enforcement to carry out the responsibilities of the federal government.

We hope the Texas Legislature will do better for our communities — and for the safety of Texans.

Hernandez is in Travis County. Valdez is in Dallas County. Gonzalez is in Harris County. Salazar is in Bexar County. Wiles is in El Paso County.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Letters to the editor: Jan. 20, 2018

It is appalling the disrespect being shown to President Trump. The left, liberals and Democrats have turned a blind eye to the corrupt leadership shown during the eight years of Obama and the Democrats. President Trump has done very well so far. It is very apparent that the Democratic party’s leadership does not want Trump to succeed and they...
Affordable credit is essential to a growing middle class
Affordable credit is essential to a growing middle class

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who represents deep southern Texas, understands what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. His parents were migrant workers who sometimes traveled from Laredo to Idaho for jobs. He also understands the value of hard work. With a master’s, J.D., and Ph.D., he’s “the most degreed member of Congress...
Commentary: Where will technology take the arts?
Commentary: Where will technology take the arts?

Every new technology changes how we find and experience art and entertainment, for better and worse. Today, as streaming becomes the dominant delivery mode for creative content, a new world of instant, global, direct connection between artists and their fans is at hand. The potential is glorious — ease of access, openness, a search for new content...
Herman: The Kiddie Acres carousel spins again
Herman: The Kiddie Acres carousel spins again

Back in July I told you that after about four decades and countless birthday parties, Joe and Marina Herring were retiring and closing their Kiddie Acres, a small North Austin amusement park that has a special place in the our town’s collective memory bank. I told you the rides were being auctioned. And in September, I told you that ...
Facebook comments: Jan. 19, 2018

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Jonathan Tilove, Gov. Greg Abbott has unveiled the centerpiece of his re-election campaign: His property tax reform plan. It would cap revenue increases for local taxing entities at 2.5 percent a year. “Under the plan I am announcing today, Texas will take action to limit property tax growth, secure...
More Stories