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This Week in Texas: Lawsuits Filed, “Summer of Resistance” Announced While Abbott Fails At Spin

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Here’s a roundup of what happened in this week in Texas and the resistance to SB 4:

Gov. Greg Abbott’s claims that Hispanics have nothing to fear from SB 4 are rebuked

This week in Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tried to argue that people who haven’t done anything wrong have nothing to fear from SB 4:

My message to the Hispanic community is don’t fall for all of the fear mongering that’s going on. If you look at the details of Senate Bill 4, it does not pose any concern for anybody who’s not a criminal. If you’re a criminal and you’ve done something wrong, yes, whether you’re here legally or illegally, you’ve got something to be concerned about it. If not, you’ve got nothing to be concerned about.

The statement, of course, is either a complete misunderstanding or a willful misrepresentation of what SB 4 would do. It allows police to ask anyone who is stopped by law enforcement – for example, for jaywalking or for speeding – for their immigration status. A recent report from Gwinnett, Georgia found that thousands of immigrants there, over the years, have been detained and deported over nothing more than traffic offenses. As Austin City Council member Greg Casar responded to Abbott:

 Read the bill — it does not say ‘serious crimes. The law that he championed says you can be asked about immigration status while simply being stopped, so I don’t know why he’s telling people something so blatantly untrue.

Abbott has been caught flat-out lying before: earlier this month, he claimed that immigrant-friendly cities allow violent criminals to roam free (they don’t, and immigrant-friendly cities are safer than those who don’t have protections for immigrants in place)

Cities file lawsuits against Texas

This week in Texas, Austin and El Paso officially filed lawsuits against Texas over SB 4.

Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas have announced plans to follow suit in the coming days and weeks.

Already suing Texas are the border town of El Cenizo and Maverick County

State Rep. Charlie Geren, a Republican from Fort Worth and one of the bill’s chief sponsors, said no municipalities publicly expressed support for the legislation.

Advocates announce “summer of resistance” against SB 4

Advocates in Texas this week announced the launch of 100 days of resistance against SB 4, which will include everything from voter registration drives to civil disobedience. The launch followed a Mothers’ Day protest in which 600 Texas moms and advocates marched against SB 4 in Austin.

As Texas Jolt executive director Cristina Tzintzun said:

SB4 is not just an attack on undocumented immigrants, it’s an attack on the entire Latino community. In the 100 days leading up to the implementation of SB4 Latinos are coming together to register voters, educate the community about the impact of the law, and organizing public demonstrations and civil disobedience actions to put an end to SB4.

View photos and videos of the Mothers’ Day protest here.

View photos and videos of the “summer of resistance” launch here.

Attorneys: Texans should gather paperwork proving citizenship

Though SB 4 won’t be implemented until September, advocates fear that some police officers will start implementing the law early. Attorneys say that Texans should start gathering up paperwork that proves their legal status and/or citizenship – though the state has not even made it clear which papers will be accepted. This may especially lead to trouble for Texans who have legal presence but are not citizens (including tourists, those on visas, and legal permanent residents).

As San Antonio attorney Steven Gilmore told local news:

In Texas, it would probably be advisable to start carrying around social security cards, birth certificates, whatever you have. You don’t know what’s going to be sufficient to determine immigration status.

If you’re here on a work visa, or u-visa, education visa, we don’t know what’s going to be sufficient. The law doesn’t tell us what’s going to work and what’s not. It would be in your best interest to have as documentation as you possibly can to satisfy whatever requirements SB4 ends up having. Right now, we don’t know.

More resources this week in Texas

Why Texans Are Fighting Anti-Immigrant Legislation, by Austin City Council member Greg Casar

Congress, do not burden local law enforcement on immigration, by Harris County Sheriff Edward Gonzalez and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez