Democrats in the Texas Legislature are pushing through a bill which would require that city police officers never ask victims of crime about their immigration status, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"It does prohibit police officers from asking for the immigration status or nationality of a victim of a crime," said State Rep Lon Burnam (D-Ft. Worth).
How deeply local police can get involved in detecting the immigration status of people they come into contact with was at the heart of the 'sanctuary cities' bill which was hotly debated two years ago. That bill would have required local police to record the immigration status of everyone they deal with in the course of their duties, and report illegal immigrations to federal officials.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says when local police get involved in immigration enforcement, it chills reporting of crimes, and lets criminals literally get away with it.
"This is simply a bill that will insure that police are there to investigate crimes," he said. "The will know that the police are not ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement" Agents."
Conservatives say if a person is in this country illegally, that person is in violation of U.S. laws, and it is hypocritical to tell police officers not to enforce certain laws. They say if officials don't want local police involved in crime fighting, they should say so flat out, or convince Congress to change the laws.
The measure's future in the Legislature is uncertain. This session has generally shied away from controversial immigration legislation.