A proposed bill barring law enforcement from asking victims and witnesses in criminal cases about their own immigration status is moving ahead in Austin.

The bill was proposed by Fort Worth Representative Lon Burnam, and it is getting support from local immigration activists.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction to encourage people to report crime and to have confidence in law enforcement,” attorney Gordon Quan told KTRH.

Hector Chavana Jr. of La Raza Justice Movement is also behind Burnam’s bill.

“Victims should be able to report crimes without fearing any backlash on immigration issues,” Chavana told KTRH.

Quan says things are better than they used to be here in Houston, but there is still progress that needs to be made.

“The eastern Retailers Association is comprised of 1,500 South Asian grocers. Many of them to not have status and many of them have had to be fearful about reporting episodes,” Quan explained.

Chavana also says some people he knows have been afraid to come forward.

“There are several incidents that I know of that people chose not to report because they feel that it’s not worth the hassle or the risk of confrontation over immigration issues,” Chavana said.

The bill has been voted out of committee but time is running out to get it considered by the full house. The scheduling deadline for the bill is tomorrow.