Local meeting held on ‘sanctuary cities’ bill, other issues
A large crowd filled the gymnasium at Annie Sims Elementary School in Mount Pleasant Monday evening for a community meeting covering three topics of interest to local residents.
State and local officials made a presentation and answered questions related to Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB4), the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill, and a plea was made for local Spanish speakers — the crowd was predominantly Hispanic residents — to volunteer with the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program. Mount Pleasant Police Department (MPPD) officers also passed on information on a car safety seat program.
State Rep. Cole Hefner, a northeast Texas native who maintains offices here in town, kicked off the discussion of SB4.
“Your state government, they don’t have the authority over federal immigration law,” Hefner told those gathered. “So what this bill aims to address is a problem that we had with some larger cities in our state. In some cities we had individuals that were arrested for certain crimes, and when they’re processed through the system at the county jail, it would be determined that they had an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detainer on the individual for a violent crime. So these larger cities would refuse to honor the ICE detainer.” SB4, Hefner said, “aims to prevent local law enforcement entities from creating policies that directly contradict federal immigration law. It also requires that jail officials honor requests for ICE detainers.” The law also create penalties and fines, and a process for removal from office, for officials who violate its provisions. As far as what it will mean locally, Hefner added, “Our local law enforcement agencies have been honoring these ICE detainers. They’ve been honoring federal immigration law. “So from my understanding of the law, things in Mount Pleasant, in our area, will not change.” SB, passed by the Legislature in May, has been challenged in court on Constitutional grounds. City Councilman Michael McGahee, prior to the discussion of SB4, hit on the need for Spanish-speaking residents to lend their time to the efforts of CASA of Titus, Camp and Morris Counties. A CASA volunteer is appointed by a judge to represent the interests of children who must be placed in the foster care system because their homes are unsafe. CASA volunteers are the eyes and ears for the kids, and in many cases, some of their only dedicated advocates. “We’re not asking you to be foster parents or have children come into your home, we’re simply asking for you to spend some time and donate some time to help,” McGahee said. “We have approximately 32 local Hispanic children that benefit from this program. For those 32 children, we have five Spanish speakers that are volunteers ... We can have white volunteers or black volunteers that cannot bring what a Hispanic volunteer can bring to a Hispanic child. So we’re asking for your help. “If the local Hispanic community does not do it, then who will?”