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Kien Johnson-Dye and Liam Wilson

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A child protests SB4 during the International Worker’s Day protest outside Gov. Abbott’s office. Photo by Diego Guttierrez.

A child protests SB4 during the International Worker’s Day protest outside Gov. Abbott’s office. Photo by Diego Guttierrez.

Gov. Abbott’s signature makes SB4 the law in Texas

On May 1, inside the Texas State Insurance Building, 24 immigration activists were arrested after staging a sit-in next to Gov. Abbott’s office. Among the 24 arrested were Rev. Jim Rigby of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and council member Gregorio Casar of District 4. The sit-in was staged in response to Abbott’s signing of Senate Bill 4, which would cut off funding to sanctuary cities and require punishments such as steep fines or even jail time for Texas officials who failed to follow state and federal immigration laws.

May Day activists cheer Rev. Jim Rigby of St. Andrews Church after state troopers released him. Photo by Diego Guttierrez.

May Day activists cheer Rev. Jim Rigby of St. Andrews Church after state troopers released him. Photo by Diego Guttierrez.

All throughout the state of Texas, both liberal and conservative activists have fought for the immigration policies they believe to be correct. When the Texas government introduced SB4, it sparked outrage between immigration activists and Democrats in the Texas legislature.

The bill would not only directly affect immigration policies

within the state of Texas, but it could establish a national standard on undocumented immigration. Like Gov. Abbott, President Trump has pledged to be harder on undocumented immigration.
Rev. Rigby, a pastor at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and one of the 24 arrested during the May 1 sit-in, had a clear message to the targets of SB 4.

“We have a message for our undocumented neighbors here in Austin: we love you and want you here,” Rigby said. “We would rather suffer by your side than be guilty bystanders to the cruel and undemocratic tyranny of this administration. … We cannot stop them from gerrymandering and abusing our city, but we will not let them divide us spiritually.”

In the past, Rigby has stated that he has feared the potential role of law enforcement in immigration policy.UT students make signs at the Capitol on April 26. SB4 was passed the next morning. Photo by J. R. Cardenas.
“Especially in Austin, all these different cultures unite together in this small city and try to fight a governor who doesn’t want to listen to them,” said Matthew Salgado, a McCallum freshman. “They gather here because Austin is one of the only spots in Texas that welcomes [progressive] culture and ideals. We [Austin] see a lot of Hispanic migrants, and some of them are not here legally.”

UT students make signs at the Capitol on April 26. SB4 was passed the next morning. Photo by J. R. Cardenas.

 

Critics of SB4 contend that the bill is too strict and that it authorizes immigration enforcement to split apart innocent families and infringes on the privacy of otherwise law-abiding undocumented persons who contribute to the state and national economy.

Supporters of the bill point out that undocumented persons have already broken one of the most basic U.S. laws by crossing our border without permission; the punishment they say should fit the crime.
While McCallum social studies teacher Greg Anderson did not express a stance on SB4, he did have an opinion on the importance of following existing laws.

“We, as a nation, have laws for a reason,” Anderson said. “I’m not saying that there are not discriminatory or morally wrong laws, but that doesn’t change the fact that we still have laws. If somebody finds a law unfair, they should change that law by voting those who support that law out of office. Austin will lose this battle against the governor. This does not necessarily mean that he [Abbott] is right, but if the majority of Texas’ citizens voted for him to enact the policies he ran on, he is going to enact those policies. The [current] political minority will have to work to elect someone else if they want to enact their agenda.”
The fight over the issues contained in the bill is far from over, and the Texas officials will still face controversial decisions regarding this issue.

SB 4 goes into law in September.

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Standing up by sitting down