The morning after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the "sanctuary-cities" bill into law, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus expressed his discontent for the policy, saying it will put a burden on the department and cause fear in the community.
The bill, which will go into effect Sept. 1, allows local law enforcement to ask those who are "lawfully detained" what their immigration status is. Officers will have the authority to detain suspects thought to be in the country illegally, and may be required to do so at the request of federal officials.
In addition, a sheriff, police chief, constable or jail administrator who fails to detain a suspect at the request of ICE could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a maximum $4,000 fine, or both. Repeat violations could reach a fine of $25,000, MySanAntonio.com reports.
"There's nothing positive that this bill does in the community or law enforcement," McManus said, adding that the law was "dumped on" the department by lawmakers. Before now, the San Antonio Police Department enforced a policy that barred officers from asking about immigration status. Under the new law, officers will be allowed to ask suspects if they are in the country legally.
Each of the roughly 2,400 San Antonio police officers will have to undergo new training on federal immigration laws, which could take at least one year, McManus said. New curriculum will have to be created for training, which could entail working with ICE or hiring an expert to help.
"I'm afraid that people will shy away from the police all together," McManus said. "We work with the community every single day all over the city — North, South, East and West — and people are not afraid to interact with us. That bill legitimately creates that fear."