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This Week in Texas: Cities, Advocates File Additional Lawsuits Against SB 4, While LA, WI Consider Anti-Immigrant Bills

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This week in Texas saw cities and advocacy organizations joining the legal fight against Texas and its anti-immigrant SB 4 law. The Texas Civil Rights Project, the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, and El Paso County filed a new lawsuit against SB 4, while the ACLU joined an existing suit from the city of El Cenizo.

Additional lawsuits against SB 4

The statement from Edgar Saldivar, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, told Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republicans in the state to be prepared for resistance to the law:

By joining as co-counsel for the City of El Cenizo, Mayor Reyes, and the other courageous plaintiffs who sued the state, we aim to protect the civil liberties of immigrant communities. The Constitution does not allow the state of Texas to enact laws that threaten immigrants and the local officials entrusted to protect them. Today, we assert our resistance to the state’s pervasive attacks on vulnerable people and say to Gov. Abbott — see you in court.

The Texas Civil Rights Project published an op-ed explaining their lawsuit and debunking arguments that some have made in favor of SB 4:

Some claim that SB 4 only applies to “violent criminals.” That is not true. By forcing law enforcement agencies to honor all ICE detainers, SB 4 has the potential to affect every single immigrant, regardless of immigration status. There are cases, including here in Texas, of U.S. citizens being mistakenly subjected to ICE detainers.

SB 4 already runs afoul of the limits placed on state powers by the Constitution. When the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of Arizona’s SB 1070, it reiterated the federal government’s ultimate control of immigration policy. The law is clear: Texas cannot set its own immigration policies…

Texas must not repeat the mistakes that made Arizona a national pariah. Along with our allies, we will fight back against this discriminatory law both in and out of the courtroom.

Austin and Maverick County are among those who have sued Texas already. Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas have announced plans to follow suit in the coming days and weeks.

Immigrants and advocates on the ground are making preparations for a Memorial Day rally against SB 4, which will include advocates from Arizona who helped bring down their state’s anti-immigrant law (SB 1070, which was struck down in 2014).

Anti-immigrant bills in Louisiana, Wisconsin

The building backlash against Texas’ SB 4, however, has not yet stopped anti-immigrant bills being considered in other states, including Louisiana and Wisconsin.

In Louisiana, the state House — on its second try — passed a bill that would outlaw so-called “sanctuary cities” in the state, making the Pelican State much more hostile to immigrants and harming public safety for everyone. This might especially affect cities like New Orleans, which currently prohibits police officers from asking people they talk to about their immigration status. The Republican Attorney General, Jeff Landry, that he would be willing to jail mayors or other officials around the state who fail to comply. The bill now moves to the state Senate for debate and a vote.

In Wisconsin, a similar anti-sanctuary-cities bill has been introduced in both the state Senate and Assembly. Such a bill was defeated last year by the Day Without Latinos and Immigrants general strike — but Republicans are trying again. As Voces de la Frontera said in a press statement:

This is an Arizona-type racial profiling bill. This bill will increase racial profiling and discrimination, waste taxpayer dollars and disrupt the economy, and make everyone less safe by making community members afraid to report crimes. If Governor Walker and Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald do not kill this bill, we will take escalated action above and beyond last year’s Day without Latinos and Immigrants. In the meantime, we will hold a statewide day of action and lobby day at the Capitol in Madison on June 28th, with buses coming from across the state. Our community defeated this discriminatory, hateful bill last year. We will do whatever it takes to stop Republicans from taking Sheriff Clarke and Donald Trump’s campaign of terror against immigrant families statewide.