Comparing Texas SB 4 to Arizona SB 1070

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May 5, 2017

Senate Bill (SB) 4 provides civil and criminal penalties for cities, counties, law enforcement agencies and university police departments in Texas who have or implement new policies that build trust with immigrant communities. The law requires all Texas law enforcement agencies to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers and punishes local government entities for not enforcing federal immigration laws. It also bars any local policy that prohibits police officers from questioning a person’s immigration status, even during routine traffic stops. (For a more detailed summary of SB 4, see here).

SB 4 passed both houses of the Texas legislature and was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 7, 2017.  It will take effect Sept. 1. The negative impact of SB as described in 5 Things to Know about Texas SB 4 will be significant.

Texas SB 4 shares similarities to Arizona’s SB 1070 passed in 2010 which required law enforcement officers to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they suspected to be in the country without authorization and was eventually struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States. Below is a chart comparing the two laws.


Texas SB 4 (2017) Arizona SB 1070 (2010)
Prohibits local policies limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws (these policies aim to increase trust with immigrant communities) Yes Yes
Prohibits local policies limiting state and local officials from transmitting information to federal authorities Yes (specifies transmission of information relating to immigration status) Yes (specifies transmission of  information relating to immigration status, but also eligibility for public benefits, claims of residence/domicile, verification of identity, and compliance with alien registration laws)
Requires or permits police officers to check the immigration status of a person they encounter when there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is undocumented Permits Requires (though Arizona’s attorney general has instructed officers to ignore this provision as part of a settlement)
Requires that localities honor all ICE detainer requests Yes No
Provides for transfer of undocumented individuals convicted of state or local offenses to federal custody Yes Yes
Provides authority to state and local law enforcement to transport noncitizens held in custody to federal authorities, even when outside the local jurisdiction No Yes
Establishes process for members of the public to bring civil complaints against local jurisdictions and government officials in violation of the act Yes (complaint to attorney general) Yes (private right of action)
Establishes complaint process for investigations of employers alleged to be hiring undocumented workers No Yes
Includes broad harboring and transportation provisions that create criminal penalties for routine conduct; mandates impoundment of vehicles used for these purposes No Yes
Creates criminal penalties for knowingly employing undocumented workers and/or attempting to hire day laborers No Yes
Creates criminal penalties for government officials who violate provisions of the act Yes No
Creates separate state criminal offenses for federal immigration law violations No Yes
Creates civil penalties against localities that violate provisions of the act Yes Yes
Permits warrantless arrests of individuals who have committed a deportable offense No Yes
Requires employers maintain  records of verification of employment eligibility for three years or term of employment No Yes
Provides for defense and/or indemnification for good-faith compliance with the act Yes, but only for localities after state attorney general has agreed to assist in the defense (if the state attorney general determines good-faith compliance) and locality is found liable or settles Yes, but only for individual law enforcement officers found to be attempting good-faith compliance with the act. Does not provide for defense, just indemnification, but indemnification includes costs and attorney’s fees