Students stage walkout in protest of ‘anti-sanctuary city’ bill

Students stage walkout in protest of ‘anti-sanctuary city’ bill

Students stage walkout in protest of ‘anti-sanctuary city’ bill
September 01
18:13 2017

UNT and Texas Woman’s University student organizations staged a walkout at 11 a.m. Friday, although the subject of their protest, Senate Bill 4, was blocked by a Texas court on Wednesday. The bill, often referred to as “anti-sanctuary city,” was set to go into effect Friday before it was halted.

About 40 UNT students gathered in the Willis Library mall around 11 a.m., many holding signs, and chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, S.B. 4 has got to go.” The students began marching towards the Square after 20 minutes of various chants surrounding a white banner that read “Power to the people, no human is illegal” in Spanish, Arabic and English.

“We feel S.B. 4 is a racist law based on profiling,” economics junior Isaac Davis said. “Our banner includes Spanish and Arabic because people from Arabic and Spanish-speaking countries are profiled the most.”

Davis is also the tabling coordinator for International Socialist Organization (ISO) at UNT.

Not all the marchers were students— some were Denton residents concerned about the bill, such as Dawn Marter, 53, who learned about the walkout from a community-organizing meeting by Indivisible Denton.

“I’m here because America is made of immigrants and this hate is really disturbing to me,” Marter said. “For a middle-aged white woman to be here says a lot, I think.”

UNT students were met with marchers from TWU at the Square, where Cosecha Denton introduced speakers from Mueve, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, ISO, Denton Residents Against S.B. 4 and others.

“It’s crazy that in 2017 we’re fighting laws that allow racial profiling,” said Rachel Herrera, a 20-year-old TWU student. “I think we should work together and make our congressmen listen to us because it’s a law of hate.”

Students and protesters chant words and phrases written by Sanctuary UNT at the Sept. 1 SB4 Walkout. The chants included phrases welcoming immigrants and rejecting racism. Sarah Schreiner

Speakers talked about their personal stories as immigrants, specific individual rights in police encounters, details of S.B. 4 and more in Spanish and English.

“This walkout had been planned before the injunction,” Cosecha Denton member and UNT senior Cristal Benitez said. “We wanted to continue with the event because this fight isn’t over, this is just a small victory.”

Organizers ended the event around 12:30 p.m. with a call to action, asking attendees to participate in local organizing and to join a Dallas celebration of the injunction at Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge this evening. A registrar was also on hand to register people to vote after the event.

S.B. 4 is a law enabling police officers to ask legally detained individuals about their immigration status. The bill would allow for punishing local entities who refuse to coordinate with federal immigration officials with potential jail time and fines exceeding $25,000.

In essence, the bill would forbid local authorities from creating “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants by not enforcing federal immigration laws.

Wednesday’s decision put a temporary stop to S.B. 4 with a preliminary injunction when U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia declared key parts of the bill in violation of the fourth amendment.

Garcia ruled the “detainer” portion of the law unconstitutional, a provision which would require local authorities to turn over individuals subject to deportation to federal agencies upon request. He also struck down the provision requiring local officials to cooperate with federal immigration agencies.

The portion of the bill allowing law enforcement to ask legally detained individuals about immigration status remains intact.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill in May 2017, after months of protests throughout Texas. Opponents of the bill said it would encourage racial profiling and erode relationships between Hispanic communities and police officers.

Shortly after Abbott’s signing of S.B. 4, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a complaint about declaratory judgment, asking a US District Court in Texas to declare the law constitutional in order to get ahead of potential legal challenges. The lawsuit requested that the judge declare the law not in violation of the 4th and 14th amendment, relating to search and seizure and due process respectively, and not preempted by federal law.

Judge Sam Sparks dismissed the lawsuit in August, leaving opponents of the bill focused on Garcia as the last chance for a stay. Garcia’s decision followed a lawsuit filed against Abbott and Paxton in San Antonio. Plaintiffs included the cities of Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

The injunction is not a final decision on the bill, but halts it from going into effect while the case continues.

Featured Image: Students and protesters chant words and phrases written by Sanctuary UNT at the Sept. 1 SB4 Walkout. Students scheduled the walkout for Friday at 11 a.m. Sarah Schreiner

About Author

Sarah Sarder

Sarah Sarder

Sarah Sarder is the Senior News Writer for the North Texas Daily.

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