Media Contact

Kristi Gross, ACLU of Texas, [email protected]

February 15, 2024

AUSTIN, Texas — The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas heard arguments today regarding a motion for a preliminary injunction to block Texas Senate Bill 4 (88-4). If allowed to take effect, the law permits local and state law enforcement to arrest, detain, and remove people they suspect to have entered Texas from another country without federal authorization.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Texas, and Texas Civil Rights Project filed Las Americas v. McCraw on behalf of El Paso County, American Gateways, and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in December 2023. The lawsuit was subsequently consolidated with United States of America v. Texas, a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice. Today’s hearing was for both legal challenges.

Following today’s hearing, the organizations are awaiting the court’s decision. If the court denies the preliminary injunction, the law will go into effect on March 5, 2024.

“No state has the right to unilaterally decide who gets to be American. Doing so violates the Constitution, undermines human rights, and damages international relations,” said David Donatti (he/him), senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas. “If allowed to take effect March 5, S.B. 4 will permanently create a separate system of mass migrant incarceration that is rife with civil rights abuses and wastes billions of taxpayer dollars. Texas politicians’ cruel attempt to punish people seeking safety and a better life is completely out of touch with our values and our laws.”

“S.B. 4 is an unconstitutional policy that denies people the right to due process and disproportionately harms Black and Brown citizens and non-citizens alike. Despite Governor Abbott’s latest attempts, Texas cannot bypass federal immigration law,” said Anand Balakrishnan (he/him), senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “We came to court today to ensure that this policy never goes into effect.”

“If allowed to take effect, S.B. 4 will blatantly disregard due process and put our border communities and immigrant communities throughout the state at risk, opening the door for racial profiling, baseless arrests, and unlawful deportation of our families, friends, and neighbors,” said Aron Thorn (he/him), senior attorney for the Beyond Border Program at Texas Civil Rights Project. “S.B. 4 is yet another unconstitutional attempt by Texas to usurp federal authority, and TCRP will continue to fight against the bill and for the dignity of all in our State.”

“S.B. 4 seeks to divide our communities and will have a lasting negative impact,” said Edna Yang (she/her), co-executive director, American Gateways. “It is a law based on xenophobia and racism and it does not make our communities safer, nor does it offer any real solutions to our broken immigration system. It targets our black and brown neighbors, whether they are citizens or noncitizens and should not be allowed to take effect. We have joined this lawsuit because we want to see all our communities thrive. Local officials do not have the training, guidance, or capacity to act as immigration agents and asking them to do so will only increase confusion and fear in our state. We are committed to supporting all Texas communities and ensuring that all of our neighbors are able to thrive and live without fear.”

“S.B. 4, in its lawlessness, will leave immigrant families, survivors of crime, and Black and brown Texans more vulnerable to abuses like racial profiling, harassment stemming from a codification of xenophobia, and intimidation aimed at fostering white supremacy,” said Jennifer Babaie (she/her), director of advocacy and legal services at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. “The harm this law promises to do will be felt by households across Texas, from Vidor to El Paso, Brownsville to Dalhart. That’s why we are suing to stop this abomination of a law from going into effect. Those of us committed to a vibrant, thriving, humane Texas will never let our love for this place and our neighbors be trampled beneath the jackboot of an unconstitutional law.”

“El Paso County has joined this lawsuit because S.B. 4 is bigotry disguised as policy. S.B. 4 is an unconstitutional attempt to codify xenophobia and perpetuate false narratives about our borderlands,” said Sergio Coronado (he/him), county commissioner, El Paso, Precinct 4. “Our community should not bear the financial burden of this kind of xenophobic border ‘policy.’ S.B. 4 will strain our jail and court systems while forcing local taxpayers’ complicity in the disproportionate harm of our citizens and non-citizen community members. El Paso County residents are already subject to increased racial profiling and decreased public safety due to ineffective Texas border policies.”