A piece of legislation which has provoked a furor among civil rights and immigration interest groups was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday night. SB 4 was filed to combat “sanctuary cities,” which proponents see as an open defiance of federal immigration law.
The new law allows law enforcement to question individuals on their citizenship or immigration status during routine traffic stops. It also holds public officials legally accountable for complying with federal requests to detain individuals for possible deportation.
“This is not the Texas I know,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. “This racist and wrongheaded piece of legislation ignores our values, imperils our communities and sullies our reputation as a free and welcoming state. Our immigrant communities need to know that we stand with you; we will fight this assault in the courts, at the ballot box, and in the streets if we have to. This is an assault on humanity. It will not stand.”
While the new law is drawing heavy criticisms from groups like the ACLU and Workers Defense Project, it certainly has its supporters. The issue of immigration was front and center in the campaign of President Donald Trump, whose 2016 election took most professional poll-watchers by surprise.
“As Governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets,” said Abbott. “It’s inexcusable to release individuals from jail that have been charged with heinous crimes like sexual assault against minors, domestic violence and robbery. There are deadly consequences to not enforcing the law, and Texas has now become a state where those practices are not tolerated. With this bill we are doing away with those that seek to promote lawlessness in Texas.”
With both advocates and opponents deeply entrenched, SB 4 will be a contentious issue in the Lone Star State for many months to come.
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