By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Religion News Service
FORT WORTH, Texas — For the past two years, Mexican immigrant Ricardo Ortiz felt he had an advocate.
Pope Francis, speaking via satellite, had praised Ortiz for “the way you gave everything you could as a boy, when you supported your family.”
Now, the 21-year-old Ortiz — like numerous other Hispanics in Texas — worries about how the Lone Star State’s immigration enforcement crackdown may make his family a target.
While Ortiz has a temporary work permit, his father and mother lack proper documentation. A new state law — set to take effect Sept. 1 if it survives legal challenges by major Texas cities — would allow a police officer to inquire about his or his parents’ immigration status in a routine traffic stop.
“It’s basically people-hunting. It’s like the new sport here in Texas, and the sponsor is Texas,” the Houston resident said of Senate Bill 4, a controversial measure banning “sanctuary cities” — local governments that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration laws.
“To me, it’s very racist, and I don’t know how people are able to look past that. I don’t understand how people are able to vote for that.”
Bishops for Texas’ 15 Roman Catholic dioceses — comprising an estimated 8.4 million parishioners statewide — are among the law’s harshest critics, maintaining it “neglects Christ’s call to welcome the stranger and undermines our nation’s heritage to offer the light of freedom to the oppressed.”
The bishops recently developed a resource guide explaining their opposition and providing a “know your rights” checklist on how immigrants can exercise their Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections.
Religion News Service is a national wire service whose media partners include The Associated Press, USA Today and the Washington Post.