News Release

National Civil Rights Leaders and Legal Experts Condemn Texas SB4 and Outline Pervasive Consequences

May 10, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On a press call today, representatives from the ACLU, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, the Human Rights Campaign, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, MALDEF, Mi Familia Vota, National Urban League and NCLR (National Council of La Raza) vehemently condemned Texas Senate Bill 4—the virulently anti-civil rights, anti-immigrant and anti-public safety law that includes a provision similar to Arizona’s infamous “show me your papers” law. This past Sunday evening, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the legislation, and the law is set to go into effect September 2017. On the call, national civil rights leaders and legal experts discussed the political, economic, and social consequences of this new law, as well as upcoming legal battles, including a lawsuit Texas filed against MALDEF for standing up for immigrant rights. A recording of today’s call is available here.

Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR, said, “Gov. Abbott’s action is reckless and irresponsible. S.B.4 represents a false promise to those looking for real solutions on immigration. Rather than solving anything, this deeply troubling and unconstitutional legislation will jeopardize the civil rights of millions of Texans, nearly half of whom are Hispanic, and undermine public safety in communities across the state. As an organization that works to protect and defend America’s Latino community and uphold the core values of this nation, NCLR condemns this new law and others like it, and the bigotry and intolerance they represent.”

Vanita Gupta, incoming President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on
Civil and Human Rights, said, “Governor Abbott failed his constituents when he signed this mean-spirited legislation into law. This law will create distrust between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect, which is why the police chiefs of several of Texas’ largest cities voiced concerns about the bill. And, when other states enacted similar anti-immigrant measures, their economies suffered as companies and tourists chose to spend their money elsewhere. We welcome efforts to strike down this reprehensible anti-immigrant law in the courts.”

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel, MALDEF, said, “SB4 reads like a law school exam question, in which a professor poses a hypothetical law and then challenges students to demonstrate their knowledge of the Constitution by identifying all of the different constitutional flaws in the law’s provisions. That’s how bad this Texas law is. MALDEF will challenge this odious law and will seek to block it from being enforced prior to its September implementation date. We will file that challenge despite the state’s frivolous attempt to drag MALDEF into a lawsuit on SB4 as a defendant. Moreover, lawsuits challenging and blocking the law before its implementation, while costly for the state, will actually save Texas money. SB4 is fiscally irresponsible; Texas commits to use state taxpayer money to defend and indemnify every locality that is sued for honoring a detainer request in violation of the Fourth Amendment. This open-ended commitment to defend and indemnify acts of discrimination is extraordinary and extremely costly.”

Mary Beth Maxwell, Senior Vice President, Programs, Research and Training, Human Rights Campaign, said, “The LGBTQ community is as diverse as the fabric of this country and any attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. As a country, we must welcome those who set out from both neighboring countries and distant shores to flee violence, love freely or build a better life for themselves and their families. Targeting people because of who they are, what they look or where they come from is, and always will be, dangerous and deeply un-American. Today and every day we stand with all immigrants, including LGBTQ immigrants, in this fight for justice and we support efforts to strike down the hateful anti-immigrant law, SB4."

Ben Monterroso, Executive Director, Mi Familia Vota, said, “Our Constitution is very clear on this point: we all have rights, regardless of where we are born, what religion we practice, or the color of our skin. SB4 encourages racial profiling and harms our Latino and immigrant communities. We all have a role to play in what happens next. We can exercise our people power by rallying on the streets and we can exercise our voting power at the polls. We will do what we know works when tyranny overtakes reason and morals: organize and participate civically. We have resisted prejudice in the past in California and Arizona, and we will do it now in Texas."

Lorella Praeli, Director of Immigration Policy and Campaigns, ACLU, said, “This show-me-your-papers law is an assault on America’s values and will lead to gross, widespread racial profiling. We’ve already heard from children and parents alike warning us that Texas will become a state of orphans as families are torn apart by reckless deportations. The Texas Chambers even went so far as to mandate that college campus police function as ICE agents - forcing our youth to live in constant fear. Our job is to protect all Texans - not target those with accents or darker skin. Just like in Arizona and Alabama, our community will use all of our resources to fight against the Lone Star state’s mandate of hate.”

John Yang, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said, “The face of undocumented immigrants in the media is often a Latino face, but with close to 1.3 million Asian and Pacific Islanders living in Texas, both documented and undocumented, our community will be targeted by this bill. There are about 1.6 million undocumented Asian immigrants in the United States. In Texas, 8 percent of undocumented immigrants are from Asian countries, so the fear of mass deportations is a reality in the Asian community. Families who have been here for a decade or more have been torn apart or are living in fear. Our organization has seen firsthand the fear that is gripping communities of color, regardless of status, and this law will further promote racial profiling throughout Texas and the country at large. SB4 is just another example of the wrongs felt by our community at the hands of the government, reminiscent of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the profiling of Arabs, Muslims, South Asians and Africans after 9/11. We will not let a resurgence of xenophobia and hate take place in our country. We must continue to recognize the contributions made by all immigrants in this country. Our country will be stronger for it.”

Judson Robinson, President and CEO, the Houston Area Urban League, said, “Senate Bill 4 is a discriminatory measure that legalizes racial and ethnic profiling under the guise of immigration reform. If implemented, this law will have catastrophic effects on the residents and families of Houston—the state's most populous and diverse urban center. The National Urban League and the Houston Area Urban League condemns any legislation that impedes civil liberty. This bill is a step backwards for civil and human rights, and jeopardizes our fight to improve police-community relations across the state."

Contact:
Gabriela Gomez
ggomez@nclr.org
(202) 776-1732