Faith-based groups stand against SB4 and other anti-immigrant legislation

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops issues the following press release regarding SB4:

AUSTIN — A coalition of faith-based organizations, including the Texas Catholic Conference of
Bishops, the Texas Baptist Christian Life Comission, Austin Interfaith and the Texas Industrial Areas
Foundation, are stepping up the pressure for the Texas Legislature to reject so-called “anti-sanctuary
city” bills.

In testimony today against Senate Bill 4, which Governor Greg Abbott has declared to be a priority,
Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin said, “We reject the premise that persons who are merely suspected of
being undocumented immigrants should be rounded up by state and local police agents.”
Requiring local law enforcement to enforce federal regulations will reduce communications between
peace officers and immigrant communities, regardless of their documented status. It will also
negatively impact the ability of others attempting to assist minorities.

"SB 4 will force many immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, into the shadows out of fear of being
unfairly targeted simply because of the color of their skin,” explained Dr. Gus Reyes, director of the
Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission. “We are worried our people will be afraid to attend worship
services on Sunday morning. This will have a chilling effect on the relationship between immigrant
communities and law enforcement, but it will also negatively impact many of our congregations."
SB4 would also take local police away from their primary service -- maintaining law and order in their
communities -- and will create more centralization of legal authority in Washington, as opposed to
keeping clear distinction between state and federal authority.

“This bill requires local police and sheriff’s deputies to enforce federal immigration laws as if their job
of maintaining public order and the public safety weren’t difficult enough as it is,” said

John Elford, senior pastor of University United Methodist Church and a member of Austin Interfaith and
the Network of Texas IAF Organizations. “It creates a chilling effect that undermines public safety,
families and the well-being of the community. I find it hard to imagine how this is not evident to the
leaders of our state.”

SB4, if passed, will punish local communities by withdrawing state funds for urgently needed services
for law-abiding citizens, and punish immigrants who are attempting to improve their lives. “The
immigrant who travels to Texas because he needs a job or because she is in despair or abused is in
need of the basic necessities to live,” Bishop Vásquez said. “This type of immigrant, which constitutes
the majority of immigrants, is not a threat to our safety like the cartels, or traffickers, or terrorists.
Federal agents should focus upon those who truly threaten public safety: cartel members, human
traffickers, smugglers, and terrorists.”

“I am disappointed that so many of our state leaders are pushing legislation that, in our view, treats
immigrants in a way that fails to reflect the respect due to every human being made in the image and
likeness of God,” said Jennifer Carr Allmon, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is the association of the Roman Catholic bishops of Texas.
Through the TCCB, the bishops provide a moral and social public policy voice that includes monitoring
all legislation pertaining to Catholic moral and social teaching; accredit the state's Catholic schools;
and maintain records that reflect the work and the history of the Catholic Church in Texas.

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