Texas Bill Targets Law Enforcement As Well As Immigrants, Imperiling Community Safety and Economic Strength

Communications Associate

May 4, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wednesday evening the Texas Senate passed the state House’s version of Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), a measure that threatens to punish law enforcement leaders trying to prioritize community safety and risks economic consequences.

More information about the bill and its effects on law enforcement and communities in the state is available here. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott prioritized the bill and has indicated he will sign it quickly. It will take effect Sept. 1.

SB 4 threatens cities, counties and law enforcement agencies that elect not to carry out immigration enforcement beyond what federal laws require, among other provisions. The bill permits local law enforcement officers to demand proof of an individual’s immigration status for any reason during a stop or arrest and, if warranted, immediately report them to immigration agents. A police chief, sheriff or manager who tries to provide any guidance that could limit this power would be subject to criminal penalties.

Before and after the bill passed the Texas House last week, local law enforcement leaders raised objections, including on camera and in op-eds. And they’re not alone.

“We could have avoided this state battle over immigration, and we can avoid others, if Congress would do its job and pass commonsense immigration reform,” said Pastor Tim Moore of Walk Worthy Baptist Church in Austin.

“With this law, Texas is embracing the ‘show-me-your-papers’ legacy of states such as Arizona and Alabama,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Arizona’s and Alabama’s laws undermined their economies and social fabric. Now, Texas taxpayers will pay for this measure in economic repercussions, costly court challenges, and communities where trust between immigrants and law enforcement gives way to fear and tension.

“In letter and in spirit, SB 4 is a callous measure that will diminish community safety and irreparably harm the state’s economic competitiveness. Other states should recognize its perils and reject Texas’ approach.”

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