ACLU Issues Travel Warning For Texas Amid New Immigration Law

Posted May 12, 2017

The law is scheduled to take effect September 1, but the ACLU said in a release they are anxious law enforcement officers will begin asking about immigration status now.

The order said it would "strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbour illegal immigrants".

The alert comes just days after the governor signs a law that will make it okay for police officers to ask about a person's immigration status during a routine traffic stop.

Signed by Governor Greg Abbott, SB 4 bans sanctuary jurisdictions in the state of Texas. In addition, this alert applies to all encounters with federal, state, county law enforcement including local police and sheriffs. On the call, national civil rights leaders and legal experts discussed the political, economic, and social consequences of this new law, as well as upcoming legal battles, including a lawsuit filed MALDEF by against the state of Texas for standing up for immigrant rights. A recording of today's call is available here.

"The reality is that SB 4 would perpetuate instability by making it impossible for us to effectively direct and manage our deputies", wrote the sheriffs of the counties containing El Paso, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas in an April 18 op-ed for the Austin-American Statesman. "This open-ended commitment to defend and indemnify acts of discrimination is extraordinary and extremely costly". Local police are often asked by ICE to hold a picked-up person who's suspected to be undocumented until ICE can investigate the individual's status.

"SB4 is constitutional, lawful and a vital step in securing our borders", Paxton said in a statement. "This law imposes penalties up to $25,000 per day, and it can lead to jail time and removal from office for any official who refuses to comply with the ban on sanctuary cities".

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"A lot of local law enforcement - they're not trained in immigration law".

Which can, among other things, mean that USA citizens are held in jail for no other reason than because ICE officials suspect that based on the apprehended individuals' ethnicity they might be undocumented. "I expect our response will be to seek to dismiss the lawsuit because there is no basis for this kind of anticipatory filing, and in particular there is no basis for naming MALDEF as a defendant", he said.

Long before it won approval, Democrats drew parallels between SB 4 and a handful of notable immigration-related proposals passed by Republican legislatures, particularly in Alabama and Arizona, over the years that essentially use local police to target immigrants in the country illegally and help drive them out of the country.

Over 16 percent of the Texas's residents are foreign-born, and with an estimated 1.2 million undocumented residents, Texas' undocumented population is second only to California in size, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel, MALDEF, said, "SB4 reads like a law school exam question, in which a professor poses a hypothetical law and then challenges students to demonstrate their knowledge of the Constitution by identifying all of the different constitutional flaws in the law's provisions".