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Governor Abbott of Texas is About to Sign into Law a Bill that Will Brand Texas as the Most Racist State in the Nation

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“This bill will go from a broken taillight to a broken family to broken faith in our system”

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott, is readying his pen to sign SB 4, a supersized version of Arizona’s infamous “show me your papers” law, SB 1070. While calling the bill a measure to stop so-called “Sanctuary Cities” the legislation is both an attack on civil rights in Texas, a state where nearly 40% of the population is Latino, and an attempt to execute a Trump/Abbott mass deportation strategy, in a state where 1.5 million undocumented immigrants live and work. If Abbott signs SB 4, he will be helping to brand Texas as the most racist state in the nation.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, said:

This law attacks the civil rights of every Texan who might look or sound like they are from somewhere else, even if their families have lived in the Lone Star State for generations.  Governor Abbott will rue the day he backed and signed SB4. America will not stand by quietly while Texas legalizes racial profiling and discrimination against nearly half its population, nor will the state’s citizens and businesses stand by while 1.5 million immigrants are targeted for expulsion. Get ready, Governor Abbott, for the legal challenges, economic boycotts and condemnation that your bill will bring on your state.

In one respect, this bill should not come as a surprise. The Republican-dominated state legislature in Texas has a history of passing laws that discriminate against minorities. Federal courts have recently found their congressional and state redistricting laws, as well the voter ID law unconstitutional. The courts found that the bills deliberately targeted people of color for discrimination. Since that is the case with SB4, we hope it will meet a similar fate.

As explained by Texas State Senator Sylvia Garcia:

It’s gone from a bad bill to a really, really bad, horrible bill that will result in police officers investigating the immigration status of a person, including children, without probable cause… I’m afraid this legislation will lead to harassment and profiling of Latinos, and this is the last thing any of us would want… This bill will go from a broken taillight to a broken family to broken faith in our system.

Senate Bill 4, as amended and agreed upon by both chambers, will:

  • Promote racial profiling and discrimination against those who might be perceived to be immigrants – even if they are U.S. citizens, through the “show me your papers” provision. According to the Associated Press: The legislation includes a provision to ensure “that law enforcement across the country’s second-largest state can inquire if people are in the country illegally during traffic stops and other fairly common interactions — which opponents say will spark the kind of immigration crackdown that the Trump administration has so far been unsuccessful implementing nationally.”
  • Target children by allowing “police officers to question children about immigration status … [and allowing] the detention facilities to detain children who are seeking asylum for much longer than what is currently allowed,” according to the Texas Observer.
  • Mandate fines and jail time for elected officials and law enforcement agents who don’t comply with the regulations: “An entity failing to follow the law could be subjected to a civil penalty of $1,500 for a first offense and $25,500 for any subsequent violation,” according to the Associated Press. Further, elected officials, sheriffs, and police chiefs may be removed from office if it’s found that they are not sufficiently targeting local residents for detention and deportation.
  • Terrorize the most vulnerable populations, by allowing immigration enforcement at “domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, pre-kindergarten schools, and public school events,” according to KXAN.
  • Undermine public safety, exhaust the limited resources available to local law enforcement, and sever the trust between police and the community, as evident by the vocal opposition to the bill from police chiefs in Texas’s major cities in op-eds and on camera appearances.
  • Generate widespread and negative economic effects: After Arizona passed SB1070, the state was tainted as an unwelcoming state. Cities, sports leagues, musicians, and others boycotted Arizona, ultimately leading to the loss of $490 million in tourism revenue in a single year, along with the loss of 3,000 tourism-related jobs. Texas seems to be heading right into a similar storm. Its reputation, its attractiveness as a place to do business, and its reliance on nearly 900,000 immigrant workers who fuel the state’s economy will all be put at risk when Governor Abbott signs the bill.