On May 4, the governor of Texas signed SB 4, a new law that would require local law enforcement to follow federal procedures concerning undocumented people — essentially deputizing them as ICE agents. Now, some are calling for a boycott of the state.
The law, which allows local police to stop people without probable cause, theoretically allows officers to racially profile Latinos and ask them for documentation. It also increases the penalties for “harboring” an undocumented person.
The ACLU has even issued a State Department-like travel advisory to the state. The law takes effect on Sept. 1.
“The ACLU’s goal is to protect all Texans and all people traveling through Texas — regardless of their immigration status — from illegal harassment by law enforcement,” Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns said in a released statement. “Texas is a state with deep Mexican roots and home to immigrants from all walks of life. Many of us fit the racial profile that the police in Texas will use to enforce Trump’s draconian deportation force.”
Actor John Leguizamo tweeted that he is canceling his tour in Texas. He also called on other celebrities to boycott the state.
200 Texas faith leaders also condemned the governor of Texas for signing this anti-immigrant law. Here’s an excerpt of the letter that they sent Abbot:
“Dear Governor Abbott,
As faith leaders from many different traditions, we write to condemn the anti-immigrant legislation you signed into law that will target and discriminate against our immigrant neighbors. As people of faith, we look first to our common values rooted in our sacred texts that remind us to love our neighbor and welcome the sojourner among us. As Leviticus 19:34 (CE) reminds us: ‘Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.'”
You can read the entire letter here.
El Cenizo, a southern Texas town with a 99 percent Latino population, has already filed a lawsuit against the governor and the state.
The suit, filed with the help of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), states:
“The complaint which was filed by the League of United Latin American Citizens against the State of Texas and key government officials seeks declaratory and injunctive relief from the courts to stop the state from discriminating against individuals based solely on the color of their skin. The complaint, which was the first to be filed by a civil rights organization in response to the signing of SB 4, maintains that SB 4 violates the U.S. Constitution. The statute seeks to extend local law enforcement into a field preempted by federal law. Specifically, SB 4 impermissibly extends immigration enforcement to local officials by forcing local government entities to cooperate with immigration enforcement efforts in a way that violates federal law both constitutionally and statutorily. In addition to the statute being unconstitutional, it is bad policy. SB 4 will promote distrust between local law enforcement and the community at large.”
Local law enforcement are also against SB4, so it appears the battle has just begun.