AUSTIN, Texas – Governor Greg Abbott today signed Senate Bill 4 (88-4), one of the country’s most extreme anti-immigrant laws. This law conflicts with federal immigration law, immunizes law enforcement to conduct racial profiling and harassment, and gives state officials the unconstitutional ability to deport people without due process.
A group of legal advocacy, immigrant rights, and faith-based organizations from Texas and New Mexico are urging the Department of Justice to intervene. The group is also calling on the Biden administration to sue the State of Texas to stop all efforts related to Operation Lone Star.
“Texas border communities have been forced to live in an environment of increased harassment by law enforcement for years,” said Sarah Cruz, policy and advocacy strategist for border and immigrants' rights at the ACLU of Texas. “S.B. 4, one of the most radical and anti-immigrant bills in the country, will undoubtedly lead to more rights violations and instill fear in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities and all people of color throughout the state. The bill violates international and federal law and interferes with the asylum process, potentially causing further trauma and distress to people seeking asylum, including families and children. Texans deserve to have their real needs met, not more cruelty that will further harm our communities.”
“People in New Mexico and Texas have long worked hand-in-hand to welcome people seeking safety and asylum in the U.S. and to support all our residents, both life-long and newly-arrived,” said Leonardo Castañeda, border and immigration policy advocate at the ACLU of New Mexico. “Many New Mexicans rely upon our neighboring cities in Texas for access to specialized medical care, air travel, education, and more. We worry this unconstitutional assault upon our shared values of civil rights will deter people from seeking those essential services. We stand in solidarity with our neighbors in Texas and condemn the signing of S.B. 4.”
“Racial profiling is a pervasive problem that extends beyond the borders of any particular region in this country,” said Marisa Limón Garza, executive director at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. “People of color are daily singled out and targeted due to their skin color, accent, or religious affiliation. If S.B. 4 is implemented, countless U.S. citizens, mixed status households, and undocumented immigrants will be subjected to unlawful interrogations, searches, seizures, and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment based on how ‘foreign’ they look and how they behave. Let’s be clear: S.B. 4 is discriminatory and unconstitutional and must not take effect. Now is the time for our communities to come together and stop Texas from becoming an unbearably hostile environment for BIPOC communities. Organizations on the ground are ready to use every tool at their disposal to protect Texas families from S.B. 4’s inherent civil rights violations.”
“S.B. 4 creates yet another hierarchy of rights for people in Texas where Black and Brown people are already racially profiled by Texan law enforcement,” said Tsion Gurmu, legal director at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). “S.B. 4, like Arizona’s ‘show us your papers’ legislation, are unconstitutional deterrent initiatives used to create fear, break up community bonds, and present the U.S. as unwelcoming to Black and Brown migrants. BAJI’s work demands that enforcement of migrants is inhumane; and S.B. 4 heightens the risk that Black Texans, no matter their immigration status, will be further criminalized. Expanding border enforcement into our cars, homes, and neighborhoods is unconstitutional.”
“S.B. 4 is inhumane, immoral, and unconstitutional,” said Dylan Corbett, Executive Director of the Hope Border Institute. “Its only aim is to criminalize people seeking safety at the border and instill fear in families throughout Texas. The day it goes into effect, it will disastrously make every Texan less safe by eroding fundamental community trust with law enforcement. The Biden administration needs to take immediate action to stop this and every action being taken by Governor Abbott to weaponize our border and cynically deploy our peace officers against the vulnerable.”
“The signing of Senate Bill 4 signifies not only what Texas politicians will do in an attempt to gain power over federal law - but that they don’t care who they imprison in the process,” said Roberto Lopez, senior advocacy manager at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “This bill would allow any police officer to become a Border Patrol or ICE agent and lead to criminalizing an estimated 80,000 migrants each year, most Brown men. Cruelly criminalizing people seeking safety by the thousands is not a real solution; we need meaningful investments to welcome people into our country with dignity.”
“With the passage of S.B. 4, the State of Texas continues its assault on people of color,” said Melissa Lopez, executive director of Diocesian Migrant and Refugee Services. “The law is unconstitutional, inhumane, and an overly broad encroachment of federal immigration authority. The State's assault on migrants has resulted in far too many deaths. Countless people will lose their lives, end up in jail, and be deported before legal challenges invalidate the law. The enforcement of this law will come at the expense of human dignity and human rights. The State of Texas is undertaking more and more dangerous tactics at every turn with no sign of letting up. We must protect anyone impacted or affected by S.B. 4. We must ensure they have access to legal representation, understand their rights, and know how to assert them when confronted by law enforcement.”
“It's infuriating that our great State of Texas characterized by the diversity of its people will now suffer the consequences of xenophobic and racist bills such as S.B. 4,” said Ivonne Diaz, senior regional program coordinator with Texas Freedom Network. “The intentions of the legislators of Texas has never been to protect the people but to continue funding and enlarging the prison system to incriminate BIPOC communities regardless of immigration status. We must continue to protect each other and to demand that our legislators work in our favor and not against us.”
“Texas has already approved billions of dollars for immigration enforcement to little effect and no end in sight, leading to a negative and disproportionate impact on border communities like El Paso,” said David Stout, El Paso County commissioner. “The passage of S.B. 4 feeds an already alarming escalation of extremist anti-immigrant rhetoric in Texas. We should advocate for federal immigration reform and embrace the trade and cultural exchange opportunities of the border. Instead, we have policy malpractice and reckless disregard from the governor and leaders in the Texas Legislature. I’m beyond disgusted by their willingness to lie and to hurt people because it’s good politics.”
“S.B. 4 is a vile, unconstitutional attack on our communities and the values of justice, equality, and compassion we hold dear,” said Nancy Treviño, director of power at Presente.org. “We are in solidarity with the people of Texas who will be deeply impacted by this law if it goes into effect. This callous move will intensify racial profiling of all people of color across the state, undermining our fundamental civil and human rights. We condemn the signing of this bill into law and call on the Biden administration to challenge the legality of S.B. 4 to stop it from being implemented.”