Houston Police Union Supports ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Bill

The Houston Police Officers' Union is hoping the so-called "sanctuary cities" bill becomes law. The measure passed a state Senate committee yesterday. It would ban any prohibition on officers asking the immigration status of persons they detain. As David Pitman reports, the police union's position on the bill is the exact opposite of Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland.

Chief McClelland and other opponents say if officers are able to ask people about their immigration status, it could result in less cooperation with police.  But Ray Hunt, vice-president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union disagrees.  He says a lack of cooperation for fear of being deported hasn’t materialized in places with similar laws, like Arizona.

“Whenever the persons need police, they’re gonna call the police.  We’re not asking for this as a means to deport every person who’s here illegally.  All we’re saying is we need this as a tool to fight crime when we believe persons have been involved in criminal activity.”

Chief McClelland told lawmakers in the Senate yesterday he’s also against the bill partly because of its potential cost.  McClelland estimates HPD would have to spend $4 million to train its officers on immigration issues.  But the union’s Ray Hunt says that shouldn’t be a problem.

“We currently have ongoing inservice training every single year — 40 hours a year that we go to.  And this could easily be incorporated into that.  And (I) highly respect Chief McClelland, but respectfully disagree with him on this issue.”

Governor Rick Perry made the sanctuary cities bill one of the top priorities of the special legislative session.  The rules that enabled Democrats to block the bill during the regular session do not apply right now.  That means the measure is likely to pass the Republican dominated House and Senate, and earn the governor’s signature.


David Pitman

David Pitman

Host, Morning Edition

Hi there. I’m glad you found me. Let me take a moment to answer some of the questions you might have about me and my job. I have worked as Morning Edition Host and reporter at News 88.7 since August of 2009. Previously, I hosted Morning Edition at WMFE in...

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