Last week, the Texas House deliberated for three days before passing legislature that will change lives on campus.
Senate Bill 4, which passed the Texas Senate in February, was the center of heated partisan debate for almost three days.
The bill makes it possible for campus police, among other entities, to investigate the immigration status of individuals.
More than that, the bill placed new regulations on officers on how to deal with these cases. First, it is up to the officer whether to investigate a person’s status. Second, should they become aware of an illegal immigrant, they are required to instigate and follow through on deporting the person.
For students worried about their own legal status, there are steps to take.
“Our services are offered to all students regardless of their legal status,” said a representative from Student Legal Services. “We cannot represent students in a court of law, but we can advise them on how to move forward.”
Student Legal Services also reaffirmed that every meeting with a student is always completely confidential.
It is also notable that individual officers will be given the choice to investigate immigration status on a case by case basis.
In February, when the bill originally passed the Senate floor, The Houstonian talked with Alianna Araujo, the President of SHSU International Hispanic Association and President of the Bilingual Education Student Organization.
“I honestly feel most concern for those students who are here for a better future and have gotten this far,” Araujo said. “It takes a lot of hard work to get where we are and for it to be taken away like, that is not fair.”
On the administrative level, SHSU continues to operate as a state university.
“The university does not typically comment on pending legislation because the wording of many of the bills that impact higher education often changes from the time the bill is introduced until its final passage,” Associate Director of Communications and PIO Julia May said.
“As with all legislative action, once a bill has passed and been signed into law, Sam Houston State University will support the provisions of the law when it goes into effect,” May said.
This sort of tension will play into interactions with police on campus. In larger communities, opponents to the bill point out that illegal immigrants will be less likely to reach out to law enforcement should they need to do so.
Sam Houston State University students have repeatedly commented on the special relationship they feel with the officers on campus, and the bill might shift that sense of trust and familiarity.
It is important to have your voice heard in debates surrounding on-campus issues, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by calling lawmakers and law enforcement, whether for or against the issue.
Huntsville’s representative for House is Rep. Ernest Bailes. His number is (512) 463-0570. The University police department’s number is (936) 294-1800.
The Bill will take effect in September.