MISSION — Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas said the practices authorized under Senate Bill 4, which allows local law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone who’s been detained, have long been implemented here.
The bill, which goes into effect on Sept. 1, was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday and has prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to issue a warning to people traveling through Texas alerting them their constitutional rights could be violated via racial profiling and possibly illegal arrests.
“That, we have been doing for the longest time,” said Salinas, explaining that anyone taken into custody by the Mission Police Department is asked about their immigration status.
“If they don’t have papers, then the police department will detain them for ICE to pick them up,” he said, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “ICE comes to our jailhouse every morning at 7 o’clock to pick up anybody that does not have the paperwork; we’ve been doing that for years.”
His comments were made during a discussion with The Monitor on Facebook Live Wednesday morning.
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, released a statement Tuesday opposing the bill arguing it would place an undue burden on local law enforcement and would discourage people from reporting crimes.
However, Salinas said current practices had not had that effect.
“Mission has got a lot of immigrants and they call the police whenever they need to call the police,” he said. “The police force is not going to be in any way rude to the people that are calling for help; they’re out there to do their job and to do the best they can to help the people that are calling.”
During the discussion, Salinas also reiterated his stance that Hidalgo County commissioners allow taxpayers to vote on the construction of a new county courthouse.
He also discussed his comments that were published in a Washington Post article last month in which he expressed support for a border wall.
Salinas explained that residents who live along the border have reported problems with immigrants who cross through their land.
“Those people, I have to take care of,” he said. “I agree with most of the people that maybe we do not need a wall, but when I have my own constituents in the city of Mission having problems, of course.”
He also pointed out that fencing already exists along portions of the border.
“It’s already there so why would I not support it if it’s already there?”