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'I think people are just waiting': Senate Bill 4 stirs up fear among Central Texans

Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 06, 2024

MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas — Right now state and local law enforcement cannot arrest someone just because they suspect they’re here illegally, but it may just be a matter of time before they can. Some people in our community are anxiously awaiting the supreme court ruling.

  • Central Texans are left on edge after the supreme court halted a new state law that could criminalize undocumented immigrants.
  • Senate Bill 4 would allow Texas police to arrest people suspected of crossing the Texas-Mexico border illegally.

BROADCAST SCRIPT:

“The policy does look scary,” Hope Balfa said.

Hope Balfa is an organizer with Waco Immigrants Alliance.

This mom and activist is now concerned for many undocumented Central Texans.

“There's more anger and hate and misinformation and fear,” she said.

As the Supreme Court considers whether a new state law is legal.

Senate Bill 4 would allow Texas police to arrest people suspected of crossing the Texas-Mexico border illegally.

Balfa says a similar measure in 2017 left this community in fear.

“It’s traumatizing because people couldn’t even go to the grocery store without worrying if the local law enforcement were going to pull them over,” Balfa said.

Now that fear has returned even for u-s citizens worried about racial profiling if the supreme court upholds Senate Bill 4.

“I am Latino, and what if they see my skin color, and I have a person, they think we’re illegal, and they’re asking everyone if they’re illegal, no that’s not right,” Filemon Ballejo said.

Local Representative Doc Anderson says he supports the law and believes the Supreme Court will uphold it.

J.R. Gonzales with Texas Association of Mexican American Chamber of Commerce said the law isn’t the American way.

“I think the legislature, in all of its wisdom, knew that he was overreaching knew that a lot of it was unconstitutional, but they wanted to go ahead and throw it up and see what would stick,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales believes Texas should secure its southern border.

“Not an overreaching away that basically demonizes criminalizes and discriminates against a whole set of people,” Gonzales said.

As the Supreme Court justices make a decision, Balfa and many others are left wondering what comes next.

“Nothing yet from the community — panic-wise, you know, I think people are just waiting and watching to see what happens,” Balfa said.

25 News will continue following the supreme courts decision leading up to Mar. 13, for anyone wanting to know what their rights are regarding the new law, you can reach out to Waco Immigrants Alliance at hope@wacoia.org