This is member-exclusive content
icon/ui/info filled


Dallas police chief says he’s working out how to enforce SB 4 amid community concerns

The state’s immigration law is on hold while the courts consider its legality.

Dallas police Chief Eddie García said Thursday he’s begun mapping out how his officers will handle Texas’ new immigration law even though its future remains in flux.

After a dizzying week of back-and-forth court rulings, law enforcement agencies across Texas have expressed confusion and uncertainty about their mandate under Senate Bill 4, which empowers local law enforcement to handle a series of new state crimes for unauthorized migrants in the state.

Dallas’ top cop shared his concerns about the law, which a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional in February, prompting an appeal by Texas that is awaiting resolution.


García voiced concerns about how SB 4 could impact DPD’s community relationships but said there’s a bottom line: “If this passes, we must have policies in place,” he told The Dallas Morning News on Thursday. “We can’t prohibit enforcement of the law.”

Political Points

Get the latest politics news from North Texas and beyond.

Or with:

The chief said he’s setting up meetings to establish what the department’s policies would include should the law go into effect. Those efforts, he said, are to “ensure we do not violate anyone’s civil rights” and to alleviate community fear about how officers would enforce the law.


“Training, general orders, department policy to ensure we are not violating people’s rights is paramount and would have to be in place prior to any enforcement,” García said.

The latest legal head-spinner started Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court extended an order blocking SB 4. The nation’s high court reversed course the next morning and gave Texas permission to enforce the law. About nine hours later, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked SB 4.

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel on the appeals court heard arguments over whether to continue blocking the law or let it go back into effect while the judges weigh its legality. Additional oral arguments are set for April 3 to discuss the heart of the case – whether Texas can legally enforce SB 4.


In the brief time the law was in effect, García sent a statement to officers and the media Tuesday evening saying the department would adhere to current policies and prioritize fighting violent crime “until we have more clarification” on SB 4 and can provide more training to officers.

“The department cannot prohibit or limit the enforcement of immigration laws,” the statement said. “However, residents of Dallas, victims, and witnesses should continue to feel confident in working with the Dallas Police Department.”

García told The News that the law doesn’t make anything mandatory — agencies just can’t prohibit officers from enforcing the law. The law does not in any way take away an officer’s discretion, he added Thursday.

He has told The News he’s wary about the department’s relationship and trust with the Latino and immigrant communities. A leader from the League of United Latin American Citizens said earlier this week that officials are “very concerned” with the mixed messages communities are hearing with the back-and- forth on SB 4, noting that some areas in Texas already struggle with police-community relations.

García, too, called out misinformation that has circulated amid questions of what the law does and does not allow.

He said he’s seen comments about officers stopping people because they look Latino. That is “patently false,” García said, emphasizing that SB 4 does not supersede the state’s ban on racial profiling.

“There are issues with this law that raise concerns with parts of our communities, but adding an inaccurate representation such as this creates additional fear that doesn’t help and simply isn’t accurate,” the chief said.

Related Stories
View More