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Bishops say 'anti-sanctuary' move will erode immigrants' trust of police


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AUSTIN, Texas (CNS) -- The Catholic bishops of Texas said the state's move to prohibit cities and other jurisdictions from providing sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation "does not help peace officers build trust with the migrant community."

On May 7, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the "anti-sanctuary" measure passed by the Texas Legislature.

In a May 5 statement, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops had urged Abbott to veto the bill, known as S.B. 4, saying they were disappointed lawmakers had voted for the bill and said it went beyond the governor's goal "to ensure local sheriffs and police did not undermine the immigration laws enforced by the federal government."

"The bill exceeds this goal, because it also allows local peace officers to inquire into the legal status of people who are detained, rather than just those who are arrested," the bishops said. "With such a law, people who have done nothing to merit arrest or citation can be asked for their legal status. The bill will decrease trust from our immigrant community in our law enforcement officers."

The new law bans cities and other jurisdictions from providing sanctuary to immigrants in the country without legal permission if they are facing deportation. It says police chiefs and county sheriffs who refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities would face jail time.

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