In 2017, the Texas Legislature passed a bill known as Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) and it was signed by Governor Gregg Abbott. SB 4, which is sometimes referred to as the “Sanctuary Cities Bill,” is meant to “outlaw so-called sanctuary cities by forbidding local law enforcement agencies from adopting policies that prevent a peace officer from asking about a person’s immigration status,” according to the University of Houston. The bill also requires police departments to comply with immigration authorities so that they are able to effectively enforce federal immigration laws.
Therefore, if an individual is pulled over by a San Antonio, TX police officer, the officer could inquire about their immigration status. And in the event the person being questioned is living in the state as an undocumented immigrant, the officer would then need to notify immigration authorities so that they could take the appropriate form of action. While SB 4 is expected to help make cities safer and ensure all immigrants are in compliance with the law, what it actually did was take away peace of mind for those living in Texas as an undocumented immigrant are now living their lives in utter fear.
In what ways has SB 4 specifically impacted the lives of undocumented immigrants?
In the past, if an individual was pulled over by a law enforcement officer for a broken tail light or another minor infraction, their immigration status wasn’t much of a concern to certain police officers. But with SB 4 active, undocumented immigrants now live in fear and worry that if they are pulled over, even if it for something minor, they will be detained and possibly deported. This has resulted in many individuals being fearful of traveling. In fact, SB 4 has so many immigrants afraid of being separated from their families that they are willing to forgo the necessary medical care they might need.
Forbes described the circumstances one woman from South Texas was willing to live under after she developed extreme pain in her eye. The woman was unable to afford health insurance, so she decided to wait until the pain intensified to the point where she was forced to see a local physician. By that time, they weren’t able to help her and referred to a doctor in San Antonio, which was a four-hour drive for the woman. Unfortunately, she knew that the road she would have to travel on was “infamous for being heavily patrolled by state and local police” and that there was a border patrol checkpoint she would encounter along the way.
Because the woman was “absolutely terrified of being stopped and deported,” she put off going to the specialist until “the pain became so great that she needed to be driven by ambulance to San Antonio.” Luckily, because she was transported via ambulance, she didn’t have to worry about having her immigration status questioned. She was able to stay with family while she received her first treatment but then realized the roads she had to travel on for treatment were also heavily patrolled. She ultimately decided that rather than risk getting her family, which was primarily made up of undocumented immigrants deported, she was willing to risk losing her eye.
Unfortunately, forgoing receiving medical treatment, including prenatal care, is only one of the conditions undocumented immigrants are forced to live under. Some of the other ways SB 4 has impacted lives include:
- Many families keep their children at home rather than send them to school to avoid from having their undocumented status become known.
- Many avoid going to church or other places to practice their religion.
- Many neglect to report housing problems.
- Some can only bring in a limited amount of income if there is no local work and they must travel.
Now, if you or someone you know is living in San Antonio, TX as an undocumented immigrant and you wish to find out what steps you need to take so that you no longer have to live your life in fear, you need to contact a TX immigration attorney as soon as possible. San Antonio, TX immigration lawyer J. Joseph Cohen is one of the best lawyers in the field who can help make your dreams of living in the U.S. as a carefree resident a reality. To find out more about how attorney J. Joseph Cohen can help you or someone you know, contact his office today at 210-580-4901.
The Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen is located at:
110 E. Houston Street, 7th Floor
San Antonio, TX 78205