Valley police officers speak about 'sanctuary cities' bill

They are sworn to serve and protect.

Police officers throughout the Rio Grande Valley and the State of Texas might soon have to add "immigration officer" to their resume.

Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) was recently passed the Texas Senate and is now heading to the House of Representatives.

The bill would allow law enforcement agencies to ask anyone they stop for legal documentation.

"This bill states that agencies can lose funding if agencies prohibit officers from enforcing it, San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez said. We understand the mandate and will comply with the mandate."

Chief Gonzalez said by complying they will now have to dish out even more money for additional training or even to detain illegal immigrants.

"In this case there is always a cost attributed to new mandates of laws that are introduced," Gonzalez said.

Last year, San Juan officers stopped over 2,500 hundred people for numerous traffic violations throughout the city.

Of those traffic stops, the majority of the drivers were Hispanic and only 24 were Caucasian.

Only 136 of the vehicles involved in the stops were searched.

"People should not be alarmed that there will be an abuse of power," Gonzalez said.

But there are some people out there worried about that very thing.

"Here in the Valley we are 80 percent Hispanic, Lupe member Marta Sanchez said. How will they just ask one person who has documents? They will have to ask everyone."

Sanchez said law enforcement should be concentrating on more important issues---such as border violence.

Chief Gonzalez agreed"but added"a large percentage of violent crimes committed in his city are by illegal immigrants.

He said it was just last week two illegal immigrants were arrested after they tried to transport over 1700 rounds of ammunition into Mexico.

"We do see that type of individual|those immigrants who commit those crimes, Gonzalez said. Those are the people we are targeting---those who commit crimes.

But despite that reassurance there are many people still worried about the negative impact SB 9 could have on Valley residents.