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Texas Sit-In: At Least 18 Arrested After 10-Hour Protest Against Anti-Immigrant SB4 Bill

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Today was May Day, and advocates across the country rallied in favor of immigrants’ rights and against Donald Trump’s mass deportation policies. But in Texas, protesters today turned out with particular urgency against SB4, a draconian anti-immigrant state bill that was passed by the state legislature last week and is now waiting for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature (or veto).

Dozens of protesters staged a 10-hour-long sit-in at Abbott’s Austin office, calling on the Governor to veto the bill and promising that they will resist the law even if he signs it. Dozens more supported the sit-in from outside. Throughout the course of the day, advocates chanted and sang, lawyers held an impromptu “teach-in” about what SB4 actually entailed, 2015 Austin Musician of the Year Gina Chavez performed live music, dozens of pizza and other foods were delivered, while hundreds watched via livestream for hours. As the Governor’s office closed at the end of the day, the Texas Department of Public Safety ended the sit-in by arresting at least 18 advocates, then releasing them outside.

As sit-in participant and Austin City Council Member Greg Casar said in a statement released early in the day:

Throughout our nation’s history, many have engaged in similar acts of conscience to bring us closer to liberty and justice for all. Today, we carry on that tradition as we sit-in against SB 4. I do not expect that Governor Abbott will do the right thing and veto this bill. Be we will only defeat this dangerous and discriminatory law if we fight it every step of the way — in the courts, in our halls of government, and by organizing our communities.

Others participating included Sister Pamela Buganski of the Sisters of Notre Dame, Rev. Chuck Freeman of the Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry, Director of Casa RAICES Jenny Hixon, Rev. Jim Rigby of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, and more.

SB4 may be the most extreme anti-immigrant state-level legislation of its kind. The law would force police to conduct “show me your papers” searches — even campus police; would make it mandatory to comply with ICE detainer requests — even though courts have ruled them unconstitutional; and even threatens to criminally charge public officials who enact local immigration policies that voters want.

Read more about SB4 here. You can watch a video of the sit-in here or below; also view photos here or below: