SHARE
Gov. Greg Abbott texas.gov

Comedians have been saying that former President George W. Bush looks much better in hindsight after seeing current Prez Donald J. Dumbledorf in action.

When it comes to the governorship in Texas, we haven’t come to that place yet. The memory of former Gov. Rick Perry seems as bad as ever even though his replacement, Gov. Greg Abbott, might be even more partisan-minded, high-handed, easily influenced, and just plain goofy. Abbott is the guy who ordered the Texas State Guard to keep a close watch on U.S. military troops sent here to train by former President Barrack Obama. Naturally, Abbott worried that a Democrat who wasn’t even born in ’Murica was here to impose martial law and take away our guns, Bibles, and whiskey.

When it comes to racial profiling, well, let’s just say the governor isn’t overly concerned. He practically dislocated his collarbone patting himself on the back on Facebook Live for signing the Sanctuary Cities’ bill into law on May 7. In a press release, Abbott said the law will “keep [Texas’] citizens safe and secure.” Thank God – oops, we mean Abbott – for keeping us safe. We are frightened to death of cities that provide sanctuary to people. That’s scary stuff!

Abbott said his courageous law shuts up scofflaws who “promote lawlessness in Texas” – you know, like the majority of police chiefs, who opposed the law.

That no-account Travis County sheriff who was not cooperating fully with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over what she considered to be racial profiling? Abbott’s law would rein in sheriffs like her who “would not detain known criminals who were accused of violent crimes.”

Hey, if you need to make your law sound important why not just make up shit about its critics? Works for Dumbledorf.

So, beginning in September, every police force in the state, including campus police, can ask you to prove your citizenship or legal status. Next time you get stopped for not using a turn signal, the cop can demand proof of citizenship. Don’t have any? Off to jail until ICE checks you out. The problem is, we don’t have national or state identity cards. A driver’s license doesn’t prove legal status or citizenship. Passports do, but most people do not have one and are not required to carry one if they do.

“Let’s be honest,” said Domenic Powell, an advocacy and policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union, “it is going to be impossible for a local law enforcement officer to recognize the difference between someone here legally and someone here illegally. This law is an invitation for local police to screw up.”

The law will lead to racial profiling, he said.

“And it will lead to illegal arrests and people spending a couple of days in jail for no reason,” Powell said. “This is very serious.”

Enforcement agencies that do not check for citizenship will be fined between $1,000 and $1,500 for a first offense, and $25,000 to $25,500 for a second offense and for every day after that in which the law is not applied. The law allows for the removal from office of any police chief or sheriff who does not instruct his or her people to enforce the law.

The ACLU issued a travel advisory on May 9 warning that any potential travelers to Texas “should anticipate the possible violation of their constitutional rights when stopped by law enforcement.”

Mac Walker, Abbott’s press assistant, could not answer our question about what document people are supposed to produce to prove their citizenship.

“Why don’t you shoot me an email, and I’ll get it to the right people,” he said.

Former Texas Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth laughed when told about the ACLU’s travel advisory.

“Sometimes you have to deal with the right wing of the Republican Party with satire, and this is perfect,” he said. “But I don’t think this law will ever be implemented. I think that litigation will be filed for an injunction before it goes into effect on September 1, and in the end it will be struck down. But if it isn’t, I will not be carrying my passport. I will go to jail before I carry that over this illegal law.”

Conduct Yourself

Police removed the longtime artistic director and conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra from Bass Performance Hall on Sunday night. What was Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s crime? Well, he had the gall to carry a violin case in the lobby. Bass Hall prohibits bags over a certain size into the lobby and requires small bags and large purses to be searched.

Harth-Bedoya, joined by his wife and children, had just watched his daughter perform alongside the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra. Following the show, Harth-Bedoya was told to leave the building because he was holding his daughter’s violin case in the lobby. Standing outside, the conductor took a short video that received more than 10,000 views and 200 shares on Facebook within hours of posting.

“I was just kicked out of my own hall because I was holding my daughter’s violin,” he said in the short video.

screenshot facebook
screenshot facebook

In an email, Dione Kennedy, president and CEO of Performing Arts Fort Worth, which owns and operates Bass Performance Hall, said, “We are looking into this matter and will be speaking to Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra management.”

She added that Harth-Bedoya is “aware of our security procedures, including the bag admittance program.”

Since going into effect last January, the new guidelines have proven unpopular with patrons and symphony musicians alike. While many lament the hall’s strict policy, few can feign surprise at it after four months. We applaud Harth-Bedoya’s willingness to raise hell about what he considers an overzealous rule. But just because you conduct orchestras at Bass Hall doesn’t make it your hall. And purposely breaking a rule and then playing the victim on social media is an immature way to go about pushing for change.

4 COMMENTS

  1. When the Weekly reports on the implications of a statute, you usually get it wrong. I suspect that you get your info from MoveOn.org, ACLU, or another left-wing site; but you clearly do not actually read the statute you’re reporting on. For example, your article states:

    Enforcement agencies that do not check for citizenship will be fined between $1,000 and $1,500 for a first offense, and $25,000 to $25,500 for a second offense and for every day after that in which the law is not applied. The law allows for the removal from office of any police chief or sheriff who does not instruct his or her people to enforce the law.

    This is fake news. If you check the actual text of the statute, Texas S.B. 4, it says:
    “A local entity or campus police department may not prohibit or materially limit a person who is a commissioned peace officer . . . from . . . inquiring into the immigration status of a person under a lawful detention or under arrest . . . A local entity or campus police department that is found by a court of law as having intentionally violated [this section] is subject to a civil penalty in an amount:
    (1) not less than $1,000 and not more than $1,500 for the first violation; and (2) not less than $25,000 and not more than $25,500 for each subsequent violation.

    You’ve entirely reversed the impact of this section. It does NOT provide that agencies may be fined for failing to check for citizenship, but rather, agencies may be fined for refusing to allow officers to check for citizenship. Big difference.

  2. Anonymous: Thank you, but we actually got it right on point. You are playing semantics. Obviously, if officers are not checking citizenship papers it is because the administration told them not to check those papers (though those papers do not exist). We say that because if the administration told its officers to check citizenship/legal residency status (not knowable except for permanent green card holders), the officers who defied those administrations would be fired. Therefore, the implication, clearly, is that if officers are NOT checking the non-existent citizenship papers, it is because their administration told them not to check. Which means the administrations are refusing to go along with the new–albeit illegal and preposterously ridiculous and unenforceable–law, which makes them vulnerable to the fines. Does that clear it up? We hope so.

  3. Anyone can see who has it right: The Weekly and Peter Gorman, or Carlos, by READING Texas S.B. 4. https://legiscan.com/TX/text/SB4/id/1608435

    Mr. Gorman repeatedly mentions “papers.” This is a red herring. The law says NOTHING about “papers.” As Gorman correctly and repeatedly states, most people don’t carry citizenship papers. The law penalizes police departments who do not allow officers to “inquire into” immigration status. It does not require everyone to carry citizenship “papers.”

    And, yes, there are documents other than green cards that are fairly conclusive on immigration status. A U.S. birth certificate, Social Security card, or Medicare card. On the other hand, if the police stop an apparent drunk driver who cannot speak English, and has no driver’s license and no car insurance, and maybe no I.D. documents whatever, a reasonable officer would have reason to inquire into immigration status.

LEAVE A REPLY