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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bonnen gives closing remarks as House passes bill to prohibit sanctuary cities

Insider's Report Vol. 8, No. 11

Excerpt of Rep. Dennis Bonnen's closing remarks to the Texas House of Representatives on May 10, 2011 in support of House Bill 12:

"I don't respect having my positions, my motivations, and my views characterized for me.  I will be voting for this bill -- but not because of a scorecard…The reason we are supporting HB 12 today are for men like Rick Salter and for young men like Josh Wilkerson.  It is vital that we understand there are two sides to this discussion.  It is vital that we remember Rick Salter, we remember the Wilkerson family, and we remember many others that have been affected in this great state."

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On Tuesday, the House of Representatives took a much-needed step towards addressing the growing problem of illegal immigration in the State of Texas.  I supported the passage of House Bill 12, the "Sanctuary Cities" bill, to prohibit governmental entities from adopting policies that forbid their law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal immigration laws.

After listening to hours of lengthy speeches by opponents of this legislation, I felt compelled to step up to the front microphone and recount the sobering and tragic stories of two innocent lives that were impacted by the criminal actions of illegal immigrants.

On March 5, 2009, Rick Salter, a 27-year veteran of the Houston police force, led an elite squad of undercover narcotics officers in a drug raid and was shot in the face by an illegal immigrant from El Salvador.  His assailant had three recent drug arrests and had been through our court system for multiple crimes over the span of a decade.

Josh Wilkerson, a Pearland high school student, had his young life cut short when he was senselessly murdered by an illegal immigrant who had been in the court system the week before he murdered Josh.  His mother and father are left to mourn the unbearable loss of a son.

Our government failed the Salter and Wilkerson families in the worst way imaginable.  Had our existing laws been enforced, Rick Salter would not be enduring years of pain as he faces the daily challenges of what used to be routine and simple tasks. Had our existing laws been enforced, George and Laura Wilkerson would not wake up each day wondering what Josh's promising future held for him.  The illegal immigrants who committed these crimes had been encountered multiple times within our legal system and should never have been living in our country to victimize these innocent citizens.

Throughout the debate on HB 12, I found it ridiculous that any lawmaker could stand in opposition to a bill that simply requires our law enforcement to uphold and enforce existing immigration laws.  Their arguments became increasingly desperate and offensive as they claimed this bill would impose an additional financial burden on governmental entities when, in reality, our law enforcement agencies should already be carrying out this obligation to the taxpaying citizens of this state.  Their arguments rang hollow as they cited unintended consequences or possible inconveniences they feel would result from this bill.  Sue Salter said it best in her committee testimony -- what about the unintended consequences and inconveniences placed upon the Salter's and Wilkerson's by criminals living in the State of Texas illegally?

When I cast my vote in favor of HB 12, I did so in honor and support of brave heroes like Rick Salter, and in memory of the innocent young life of Josh Wilkerson.