BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) – Immigration has been a hot button issue throughout the 85th legislative session.
Newly passed Senate Bill 4 will allow police during routine stops to ask whether someone is in the U.S. legally.
It forces all law enforcement agencies in Texas to follow federal immigration laws.
The law known as the “sanctuary cities ban” will take effect in September, but in the meantime a local attorney is making it his mission to educate immigrants on their rights.
“SB 4 says that if the officer does not comply with those instructions upon finding that a person is undocumented that he should proceed with some type of detention and alert immigration,” said Attorney Juan Reyes.
The new law allows local authorities to ask about a person’s immigration status when they are lawfully detained. It also puts an end to local agencies adopting their own polices that would prevent law enforcement officers from asking a person’s status.
Reyes, has been offering free legal advice to the immigrant community on Radio Alegria, KTAM 1240 AM.
He says he understands the fear that the law could lead to racial profiling, but he says the key is to know your rights as an undocumented individual.
Reyes says he’s taken a lot of calls from people wondering what the new law means for them.
Many say they fear immediate deportation.
“When they speak of deportation they think of it as being overnight. You get arrested tonight and you’re on a bus back home tomorrow, it is not that way,” said Reyes. “You can still request a hearing before the judge, have a bond and normally deportation proceedings in the future remain in process one to two years before there is a final decision of whether that person stays here or not.”
Reyes acknowledges that being in the country illegally is a crime, but he wants to emphasize that it’s important for those individuals to know their rights instead of waiving them once they are detained.
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