Austin Struggles to Adjust as SB 4 Takes Its Toll on Immigrants

April 4, 2019
Austin Chronicle

Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership, notices the uptick in pushback against migrants who advocate for their rights. "It seems like ICE field officers are now more emboldened than ever to do what they want, thanks to SB 4 and the anti-immigrant tone overall that has changed the culture," says Muñoz, "even in a progressive city like Austin."

U.S. Reps. Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett contacted ICE Field Director Daniel Bible to request reconsideration of Gámez and Ramirez's deferred action; however, Bible declined. Warrants for their arrest will be issued and their cases have been referred to fugitive operations in Austin, Muñoz was told. The three Austin residents have returned to sanctuary and will continue to remain there for the "foreseeable future."

"If thousands of community members and elected officials determine that we are welcome in this community, why is ICE not listening to them and terrorizing us?" asks Ramirez. "They know we are not a priority for deportation and granted us discretion, and then, without reason, they took it away. ICE doesn't think they have to listen to anybody, and that's dangerous. I am going to continue fighting because I have a community behind me and because my faith is bigger than any terror they can inflict on me."