The mayor of a Texas border town says he voted for President Donald Trump and is against sanctuary city policies, but he is not for a border wall.
Officials in the City of Laredo, Texas, are considering whether to essentially declare a “sanctuary” jurisdiction, but Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz suggests a moderated approach, such as a resolution. Saenz says he is worried about losing grants and funds from the federal government and Austin.
Laredo, “The Gateway City,” borders Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, North of the Rio Grande River and has a largely Hispanic population.
Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz posted on his Facebook page that “The City of Laredo will soon decide whether to join in the ongoing anti Texas Senate Bill 4 lawsuit.” The border mayor added, “Presumably cities holding themselves as a ‘sanctuary’ to undocumented persons are subject to sanctions (including withholding of grants or other funds) by Austin and/or Washington.”
The mayor from Laredo said he was worried about losing state and federal money, the Laredo Morning Times reported. The article included a photo of the mayor with then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the World Trade Bridge.
In his Facebook post, Mayor Saenz presented questions for the city council to consider during its next meeting.
Texas and federal law, as well as United Supreme Court precedent, have answered, directly and indirectly, these questions. The question posed to the city council of Laredo is essentially whether they want to try to have Senate Bill 4 declared unconstitutional in the courts only to potentially risk federal and state grant funds.
As it relates to the “show me your papers” law claims of fear-mongering Democrats and open borders advocates, Governor Abbott explained in an exclusive with Breitbart Texas that SB 4 is very different from the Arizona law that required police officers to check immigration status. The Texas law allows officers to check the immigration status but does not require it. Abbott said this provision has been tested and upheld – even by the liberal justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mayor Saenz’ says the solution for the city is not to join the lawsuit against the Texas sanctuary city ban but to adopt a resolution. Moreover, “the City should clearly state that it is not a ‘sanctuary city’ under any definition, whether by statute or common law.” Laredo city officials should also “state it favors clarification and/or changes to some provisions of SB-4.” Specifically, he said there needs to be clarification on the issues of “targeting or racial profiling,” the danger of failure of “immigrant victims and/or witnesses” to report crimes and “other various perceived constitutional violations.”
Saenz wrote that LPD police chiefs tell him that the policy of the city has always been to cooperate with federal and state law enforcement “to insure that the violent people would be caught and imprisoned.” He also assures that officers have the professional discretion to ask a lawful detainee about their immigration status. He said that while there could be “rogue peace officers” who target, harass and/or racially profile Hispanics, there is a danger that public officials, “prior to SB-4,” could instruct their peace officers “not to ask for immigration status under any circumstances, and also not to cooperate with the feds.”
The border mayor concludes that he supports a “middle-of-the-road” approach to addressing the issue via resolution – not intervening in a lawsuit that has parties, including most of the Texas’ largest cities and major Latino and civil liberties groups, that can pursue litigation and appeal of the issues.
President Donald Trump and Texas’ Governor Abbott have come down hard in their stances against funds supporting “sanctuary” jurisdictions.
Days after taking office, President Trump signed an executive order that provided that sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities on detainers would not receive federal funds.
Breitbart News reported that the White House issued a statement after the controversial Ninth Circuit affirmed the blocking of the president’s order defunding sanctuary cities saying, “Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation.” The White House cited 8 U.S.C. 1373(a) explaining:
Federal law explicitly states that ‘a Federal, State or Local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Nationalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.’
The Trump Administration charged, “Sanctuary cities, like San Francisco, block their jails from turning over criminal aliens to Federal authorities for deportation. These cities are engaged in the dangerous and unlawful nullification of Federal law in an attempt to erase our borders.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s Justice Department sent a letter to eight sanctuary cities (New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee) and the “sanctuary state” of California on April 21. Sessions demanded they “submit documentation to OJP (Office of Justice Programs) that validates that your jurisdiction is in compliance with 8 U.S.C. §1373.” The letter also advised that failure to comply with federal immigration laws “could result in the withholding of grant funds, suspension or termination of the grant, ineligibility for future OJP grants or subgrants, or other actions, as appropriate,” reported Breitbart News.
During a White House press briefing on March 27, Sessions said a recent poll showed that “80 percent of Americans believe that cities that make arrests — that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities.”
Breitbart Texas reported that Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), recently signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, is the toughest anti-sanctuary jurisdiction legislation in the country. The bill includes criminal and civil penalties for Texas sheriffs and chiefs of police who fail to honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers. It also includes a provision that allows police officers to inquire about the immigration status of a person they have detained. SB 4 provides that local entities, a state justice agency, or campus police department, would be subject to civil penalties of up to $25,500 a day for violating the new law. These governmental bodies would also not receive state grant funds. Now Democrat cities in the politically red state are suing to block the bill from becoming law.
LMTonline reported that Saenz is an “Independent” who has spoken against a border wall. Saenz wants to keep the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) intact. Specifically, Saenz is concerned about Laredo’s relationship with Mexico because much of the City’s financial health depends on the “interchange of goods that cross the city’s border.”
Saenz would also like the federal administration to address comprehensive immigration reform, “something that would go hand-in-hand with SB 4.” He is against “splitting families,” and says “These people need peace. The sooner we address that the better. There’s room for these folks, not necessarily as citizens, but through work visas. We need consumers and workers.”