Yesterday, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) announced that it was moving its 2018 annual immigration conference from Texas due to the passage of the SB4. As the Texas Tribune reported:
AILA ‘said the bill’s ‘dangerous, destructive and counterproductive proposals’ go against the group’s mission … ‘One of the issues that drove the board’s decision was concern on behalf of quite a number of our members that they might not be willing to bring themselves or their families to Texas,’ AILA president Bill Stock told reporters during a conference call. ‘Our members are U.S. citizens and green card holders, but many of them come from ethnic communities where they felt that they [would] being unfairly targeted.’
As AILA Executive Director Ben Johnson said:
For more than 70 years, AILA’s mission has been to promote justice and to advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy. That’s not something to which we simply pay lip service, it’s what we and our 15,000 members do, day in and day out. SB-4 is unjust, unfair, and unreasonable and under these extraordinary circumstances, AILA has made the decision that it cannot bring its premier event to the state of Texas.
Frank Sharry: “We salute AILA for its leadership”
The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, reacting to AILA’s announcement:
We salute AILA for its leadership in standing up for its values, which are America’s values, and against Texas’ SB4, the discriminatory and dehumanizing ‘show me your papers’ bill, which was recently signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. By moving the 2018 immigration conference out of the state of Texas, AILA is sending a powerful signal to other groups regarding the importance of doing the right thing, even if they have to pay a financial price in the process.
AILA’s announcement should inspire other associations, organizations, and businesses to stand up for the core American value that everyone in America should be defined not by their background or birthplace but by their character and contribution. Texas’ SB4 violates this core principle by encouraging racial profiling and discrimination against any and all in Texas who might be perceived to be foreign-born, all in service of a zealous attempt to turbocharge the Trump Administration’s mass deportation strategy.
As we saw in the aftermath of the passage of state ‘show me your papers’ laws in Arizona and Alabama, if the law is implemented as scheduled on September 1st, Texas might well be facing the prospect of lost business, reduced tax revenue, and damage to its reputation. Unless and until the courts step in and halt this unconstitutional measure, it is likely that many more groups will turn their back on a state that has legislated in favor of widespread discrimination and mass deportation.