EL PASO, Texas – El Paso City Council has repealed a ban on city officials and staff traveling to Arizona.
Back in 2010, City Council adopted a policy not to spend tax money in Arizona in protest of the passage of State Senate Bill 1070 which allowed local police to inquire about immigration status. It was a step critics said would lead to racial profiling.
“We need to enforce immigration laws and we have federal authorities to do it,” then City Rep. Steve Ortega said. “That should not be the job of individual states.”
The U.S. Supreme Court struck three of the four provisions of the Arizona law, SB 1070; however, it upheld section 2(B), the specific portion that requires local law enforcement to ask people for proof of immigration status if they “reasonably suspect” an individual to be in the country illegally.
The proposal to repeal the travel ban was placed on the city council agenda by Mayor Dee Margo. The agenda item stated the mayor and City Council no longer consider the travel ban necessary or useful.
The mayor said the city is trying to recruit business from Arizona and city officials need to travel to the state.
The motion passed with four affirmative votes. Reps. Cassandra Hernandez-Brown, Alexsandra Annello and Claudia Ordaz-Perez voted against the motion.
Reps. Hernandez-Brown and Annello said the city has taken a stand against Texas Senate Bill 4, also known as the Sanctuary Cities Bill, and should stand against the Arizona law, SB 1070, as well.
The city of El Paso joined a lawsuit with San Antonio, Austin and several non-profit organizations in the fight against SB 4.
A federal judge has temporarily blocked SB 4.
The term “sanctuary cities” has no legal definition, but Republicans want local police to help federal immigration agents crack down on criminal suspects in the U.S. illegally.
The Texas bill allows police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain, a situation that can range from arrest for a crime to being stopped for a traffic violation. It also requires local officials to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation and threatens sheriffs and police chiefs with jail time if they don’t work with federal authorities.
The bill allows the state to withhold funding from local governments for acting as sanctuary cities.
“Despite El Paso not being a sanctuary city, the city is concerned with provisions in SB 4 that raise questions related to the compliance and integration of the proposed bill in current law enforcement operations,” a news stated. “The city of El Paso is against placing the responsibilities and duties of federal law enforcement agencies on the backs of local law enforcement officers without training and clear guidance.”
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