Media Contact

Kristi Gross, ACLU of Texas, [email protected]
Gabby Arias, ACLU, [email protected]
Savannah Tarbet, Texas Civil Rights Project, [email protected]
Ivonne Rodriguez, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, [email protected]
Edna Yang, American Gateways, [email protected]

January 12, 2024

AUSTIN, Texas — The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU, and the Texas Civil Rights Project today filed a preliminary injunction in federal court to block Texas’ state immigration enforcement law Senate Bill 4 (88-4) from taking effect March 5.

This legal action comes just weeks after the civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law on behalf of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, American Gateways, and the County of El Paso, Texas.

S.B. 4 would permit local and state law enforcement to arrest and detain people they suspect to have entered Texas from another country without federal authorization. It would also authorize Texas judges — who are not trained in immigration law and have no proper authority to enforce it — to order a person’s deportation without due process and before they have an opportunity to seek humanitarian protection.

“This law will rupture Texas communities,” said Adriana Piñon (she/her), legal director at the ACLU of Texas. “It will strip people of their rights under federal law with devastating consequences: Families may be separated, more people may live in fear of law enforcement, and migrants may have a harder time fully integrating into our communities. This plainly unconstitutional law should never have been passed, so now we are seeking to stop its enforcement while the litigation unfolds.”

“This law has already sowed confusion and fear into communities across the state, and it must be stopped before it has the ability to tear them apart,” said Tami Goodlette (she/her), director of the Beyond Borders Program at TCRP. “S.B. 4 threatens to destroy the foundation of our nation’s immigration system and subjects people to a separate, de facto system that has the sole purpose of targeting migrants and separating communities. People are not political pawns that can be used in Texas’ attempt to gain power over federal immigration authority.”

Plaintiff’s Quotes:

“The travesty and injustice wrapped up in S.B. 4 cannot be understated,” said Jennifer Babaie (she/her), director of advocacy and legal services at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. “This law is a dangerous political ploy that callously redirects critical state resources to an ill-advised and unconstitutional attempt to regulate federal immigration law, ignoring the myriad of other pressing issues impacting Texan communities across the state, including healthcare and gun safety measures, to name a few. The communities impacted by this illegal attempt to tear apart families based on skin color and country of origin will not stand down.”

“This terrible law makes our communities less safe,” said Edna Yang (she/her), co-executive director of American Gateways. “It is discriminatory and unconstitutional, and we can't let it take effect. Even now, there is confusion and fear about state and local officials acting as federal immigration officials. S.B. 4 is political theater that should be stopped before it ever starts.”

“El Paso County raised multiple concerns with both the constitutionality and the negative fiscal impact that the language of S.B. 4 will have on taxpayers since it was first filed by the Texas Legislature and throughout the four special legislative sessions,” said Sergio Coronado (he/him), El Paso County Commissioner, Precinct 4. “The County expressed these concerns to members of the Texas Legislature multiple times, which ultimately fell on deaf ears. This injunction is the next step in our commitment to protecting our community from an unfunded mandate that may lead to racial profiling individuals.”