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ACLU Issues Texas Travel Advisory After Passing of SB4, Houston Authorities Talk Out Against The New Law

The organization says their travel advisory is intended to warn people that travel in Texas could result in violations of their constitutional rights when stopped by law enforcement.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a so-called “sanctuary cities” ban that lets police ask during routine stops whether someone is in the U.S. legally. Opponents protested outside of the Governor’s mansion on Sunday evening, May 8th. Video: AP

 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is cautioning people against traveling to Texas, after the state passed SB4, known as the Sanctuary Cities law.

SB4, which doesn’t go into effect until September, authorizes police to inquire about a person’s immigration status during routine stops. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on Sunday, May 8th. 

The civil rights organization says it plans to fight the law in the courts.

In the Houston region, local law enforcement leaders are also speaking out against the new law.

They’re concerned the law will have a chilling effect on people in the Hispanic community who may be reluctant to come forward and report crimes.

“We’re going to make sure that our officers have training, reinforcing that the requirements of the Constitution of the United States still are intact,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. “And we have a zero tolerance policy on racial profiling.”

Acevedo’s counterpart in Harris County expressed similar concerns. Sheriff Ed Gonzalez opposed SB4 and recently took steps to opt out of the federal 287(g) program that flags undocumented immigrants in the jail for ICE detainers.

“In the past, by policy, we did not allow inquiries into someone’s immigration status just during everyday interactions,” said Gonzalez. “But now, under this law, a law enforcement officer who does want to inquire will have the discretion to do so.”

Gonzalez said he’s working closely with the county’s attorneys to determine exactly what the law requires of him.

Gonzalez talked about his disappointment with the bill on May 5th, when it was headed to Abbott’s desk for his signing. 

 

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

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Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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