Posted Sept. 13, 2017, City of Fort Worth
Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 (SB4) on May 7, 2017. The law went into effect on Sept. 1, 2017. However, there are court challenges to parts of the law that the court has not ruled on yet.
Here is some information on what this means for residents and visitors in Fort Worth.
What is Senate Bill 4?
Under SB4, the following is allowed:
Asking someone who has been lawfully detained or arrested about their immigration status.
Sharing information and cooperating with immigration authorities.
Permitting federal immigration authorities into local jails.
The Fort Worth Police Department remains committed to their philosophy of Community Policing and building relationships with the community.
Officers provide police services to the community in a nonpartisan, fair, equitable and objective manner without consideration of race, color, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability, economic status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, membership in a cultural group or an individual’s ability to speak English.
What does Senate Bill 4 do?
SB4 requires local police to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and allows police to ask the immigration status of people they have lawfully detained.
It allows officers to arrest a lawfully-detained person if the person is untruthful about their identity.
It also says that local authorities can not adopt policies that would prevent a police officer from asking about a person’s immigration status.
If law enforcement officials, public colleges, city staff and elected officials adopt policies that prohibit a police officer from asking about a person’s immigration status, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and possibly jail time. They can also face civil penalties from $1,000 to $25,000.
Fort Worth Police and our community
Fort Worth Police Officers will:
Enforce state and federal laws in a responsible and professional manner without regard to race, ethnicity or national origin.
Activate a body-worn camera when inquiring about a person’s immigration status.
Complete a “Verification of Immigration Status Report” if immigration status is discussed and an offense report is not completed.
Ensure that any juveniles or vulnerable people with the detainee are transported safely to another relative or responsible adult.
Fort Worth Officers will NOT:
Ask for immigration status of a victim or witness unless the inquiry is necessary to investigate the offense or the officer is providing information on how to get a federal visa
Engage in racial profiling.
Stop a motor vehicle or conduct a search of a business or residence solely to enforce a federal law relating to immigration, unless they are providing assistance to federal law enforcement or under an agreement between our police department and the federal government
Arrest a person who refuses to identify themselves, unless there is probable cause to arrest the person on another crime.
Honor a detainer request if the person produces proof of residency
Fort Worth police officers are prohibited from assisting or cooperating with federal immigration officers at a place of worship such as a church, mosque or synagogue. Note: SB4 does not apply to a religious organization hiring or contracting with a peace officer. For example, a church that hires a police officer to work off-duty CAN enact a policy prohibiting officers from inquiring into immigration status while working for the church. If you see any police officer who is not following these procedures, please contact the Internal Affairs department at 817-392-4270.
Your rights & SB4
What are my rights if a police officer approaches me on a sidewalk or other public space and I am not a suspect in a crime?
You do not have to answer questions about your identity or immigration status.
What can a police officer do if I am stopped for a criminal offense, including a traffic violation, or I am a suspect in a crime?
Ask you for your identification and your immigration status.
Contact ICE to inquire about your immigration status.
If you are arrested for a crime and there is an ICE immigration detainer, you may be taken into custody by ICE.
If the person being detained has a juvenile with them, the officer will locate another family member or responsible adult to come and get the child.
What happens if I call police to report a crime?
You should not be asked about your immigration status if you are a victim or witness to a crime, unless it is necessary to investigate the crime.
Texas law prohibits racial profiling and discrimination. Police may not stop a person or take them into custody if they suspect the individual is in the country illegally, but is not suspected of another crime.
The Fort Worth Police Department exists to safeguard the lives and property of those we serve, to reduce the incidence and fear of crime and to enhance public safety through partnering and building trust with our community.