Broad Coalition Files Suit Against SB4
On June 20, 2017, a broad coalition of plaintiffs including major cities, elected officials, community advocacy organizations, and businesses, asked the U.S. Court for the Western District of Texas to block Senate Bill 4 from taking effect. An August 30 ruling by Judge Orlando Garcia temporarily blocked implementation of key provisions of SB 4 including:
- the mandate to honor ICE detainers in local jails
- restrictions on the free speech of local officials
- permission for local police to act as immigration enforcement officers.
A later September 25 ruling of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Texas to enact SB 4 with several limitations. While maintaining the block on free speech restrictions, the order allows the state to prohibit local jurisdictions from barring officers “who, in effect, have authority that may impact immigration, from ‘assisting or cooperating with a federal immigration officer as reasonable or necessary, including providing enforcement assistance[.]’ ” Portions of SB 4 requiring jails to comply with detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but local jurisdictions remain free to decline requests they believe could violate constitutional rights or other laws.
At the time of the 5th Circuit ruling, MALDEF’s Tom Saenz criticized the court’s decision saying:
“In the absence of any urgency other than the mean-spiritedness of Texas state officials, the Court of Appeals nonetheless stayed portions of Judge Garcia’s carefully-considered preliminary injunction. While that is a disappointment, the court only lifted two portions of the injunction. Because the court panel limited the scope of local police cooperation with enforcement that must be permitted, one portion of the stay would be of limited effect. The net practical effect of the stay relates to detainer requests from the federal government. Here too the court panel made clear that the scope of SB 4’s mandated compliance with detainer requests does not include actually detaining immigrants where the law would prohibit continued detention. This preserves the sanctity of the Fourth Amendment in protecting the rights of everyone, including immigrants.”
MALDEF SB4 – 5th Circuit Ruling Fact Sheets (English & Spanish)
- SB4 Appeals Court Decision: Sept. 25, 2017
- SB4 Decisión del Tribunal de Apelaciones: 25 de septiembre de 2017
Governor Abbott Signs SB4 into Law
The Texas House and Senate passed SB4 after days of testimony and the legal objections of Representatives and Senators who challenged it on the floor of both chambers. Texas cannot afford to let SB4 go into effect in September 2017.
Senate Bill 4 will:
- Make us less safe because it ties the hands of police chiefs and sheriffs by preventing them from requiring their officers to focus on local law enforcement priorities.
- puts law enforcement between a rock and a hard place by requiring local jails to choose between potentially violating the rights of US citizens by honoring all detainer requests from ICE and violating this proposed state law.
- will create fear on our college campuses.
- will undermine the Texas economy.
- will discourage business from moving to Texas.
- takes local public safety decisions out of the hands of locally elected officials. Requiring local law enforcement comply with a voluntary federal program flies in the face of local control and undermines local public safety.
- blurs the line between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. This undermines community trust and drives victims and witnesses into the shadows.
- prevents cities, counties, and other local government from setting up policies and practices that prevent racial profiling. This bill makes officers that racially profile LESS accountable for their actions.
- Local law enforcement receives virtually no training on immigration law and enforcement. SB 4 encourages these officers to attempt to enforce immigration law despite this lack of training.
- invites frivolous lawsuits against local government.
- blurs the lines between suspicion of a violation of immigration law (as contained in an ICE immigration detainer request) and actual immigration violations.
SB4 is bad for the Texas economy. The Austin American Statesman, in an editorial published on Friday, February 3, clearly states the damage SB4 could do to the Texas economy:
“… SB4 creates a perception that Texas is anti-immigrant or perhaps racist, which could chill efforts to recruit the brightest and best talent from across the world, causing companies to think twice – if at all – about relocating to the Lone Star State.”
Join Texas businesses who know that passing divisive legislation like SB4 will hurt our economy and future as an economic juggernaut that makes Texas a state among nations. Sign this letter and support a strong Texas economy:
Texas Community Leaders Speak Out Against SB4
Leaders from Texas’s faith, law enforcement, business, and advocacy communities have all denounced SB4 as unnecessary and potentially damaging to our state and its economy. Read their testimonies delivered to the Senate Committee on State Affairs:
|Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar||Letter to Bexar County Delegation|
|Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez||Letter to the Senate State Affairs Committee Opposing SB4|
|Texas Border Coalition
(A Coalition of Border Mayors, County Judges, Economic Development Commissions, and Business Leaders)
|Texas Border Coalition Opposes SB4|
|Texas Association of Counties||SB 4 Adds Nothing to Public Safety, Puts Taxpayers at Risk|
|Bishop Vásquez, Bishop of Diocese of Austin||SB 4 Opposition Testimony|
|Michael Barba, Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops||Senate Bill 4 Testimony|
|Pastor Tim Moore, Walk Worthy Baptist Church||Senate Bill 4 Testimony|
|De Mott, McChesney, Curtright & Armendariz LLP||Response Letter to AG Paxton Re: SB4|
|C. LeRoy Cavazos, San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce||Testimony Against SB4|
Sign the United We Dream Petition
Join us by signing this petition to demand Texas legislators stand on the right side of history and oppose anti-immigrant legislation like Senate Bill 4. After signing the United We Dream petition, call these senators and let them know why you oppose it and want them to oppose it as well.
Stop Texas Lawmakers’ Attack on Immigrant Students. #StopSB4