A caravan of immigration and human rights activists is traveling through Texas border cities informing its residents about the state law that allows law enforcement to inquire about immigration status, commonly known as SB4, and it plans to culminate its journey in Houston on April 12, 2018.
After the Texas Legislature passed SB4 in the spring of 2017, the law –which takes aim at so called sanctuary cities— has been litigated in the courts but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a unanimous ruling last month allowing for the implementation of almost the entirety of the law.
The caravan started last Friday, March 30, in El Paso and so far has visited cities such as Alpine, Del Rio and Eagle Pass, while it is scheduled to arrive in Houston on April 12.
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Fernando Garcia, executive director of Border Network for Human Rights, explained the nucleus of the caravan is formed by a residential vehicle and two other vehicles that transport the people who are taking part in the caravan and the materials they use for their presentations and trainings, which cover information about SB4, as well as how people who consider they are being targeted can protect themselves.
The caravan also includes a training on how to document abuse by law enforcement agencies and a presentation by a ‘dreamer' who speaks about how the law impacts that segment of the undocumented immigrant community.
“At the community level, they have heard about SB 4, Senate bill 4, but they don’t know the details of it, they don’t know the specifics of how SB 4 is gonna be implemented,” said Garcia, who adds that “the common question is what to do if a local officer, local police officer or a local sheriff officer, deputy, what to do if they ask you for your immigration papers.”
Garcia noted the members of the caravan have met with members of different communities, “but also with mayors, with elected officials, with county judges, with sheriff’s offices and local police departments and we have actually been welcome.”
Garcia added one of the reasons the caravan will come to Houston, even though it is not a border city, is that it has a significant immigrant population which is also diverse.
Houston will actually be the caravan's point of transition to what Garcia calls the second leg of the caravan, which will travel through the “interior” of Texas, including cities like Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, as well as the pan handle area.
“We are gonna pass the baton for the second caravan to the interior in Houston precisely because it’s not a border city,” underlined Garcia.
Garcia and César Espinosa, executive director of the local organization Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle (commonly known as FIEL by its Spanish acronym) –which is collaborating with the action—, said they are planning to hold a rally when the caravan arrives in Houston.
Espinosa detailed the tentative plan is to hold the rally starting at 6 or 6:30 p.m. in front of the main entrance to Houston's City Hall.