This morning, the ACLU issued a “travel alert” warning that travelers to Texas could have their constitutional rights violated due to the passage and signing of SB 4, the state’s new anti-immigrant law.
SB 4 gives police officers in the state a license to racially profile and discriminate, by allowing them to ask for the immigration status of anyone they pull over during traffic stops. That means baseless scrutiny for the 1.5 million undocumented immigrants who live in Texas, as well as the more than 10 million Latinos who call the state home, as well as any travelers (from elsewhere in the US or abroad) who might look out of place to local police.
As Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns, said in a statement:
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. 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.
Added Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas:
We plan to fight this racist and wrongheaded law in the courts and in the streets. Until we defeat it, everyone traveling in or to Texas needs to be aware of what’s in store for them. The Lone Star State will become a ‘show me your papers’ state, where every interaction with law enforcement can become a citizenship interrogation and potentially an illegal arrest.
Alabama, back in 2011, famously ran into problems with a similar anti-immigrant law — HB 56 — which ended up repeatedly embarrassing the state when visiting auto executives were detained, harassed, and arrested by police due to their not understanding that they had to prove legal status. Texas, currently, is host to a number of major events — it was home to the Super Bowl this year, and hosts SXSW every spring — but its hospitality could soon be challenged by SB 4. The law doesn’t officially take effect until September, but the ACLU is warning that some law enforcement officers may begin to treat residents and travelers unfairly now.
If you believe your rights have been violated because of SB4, please contact the ACLU of Texas at 1-888-507-2970. ACLU “Know Your Rights” materials are available in a variety of languages here: www.aclu.org/know-your-rights