The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a “travel alert” for people traveling to Texas, warning them that after the passage of a new law, their constitutional rights might be violated during a routine traffic stop.
The law, signed by governor Greg Abbot on May 7 while on Facebook Live, is the country’s strictest ban on so-called sanctuary cities, where officials can decide to limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The new regulation allows law-enforcement officers to ask anyone they detain, even in a traffic stop, about their immigration status. The ACLU says this will lead to “widespread racial profiling, baseless scrutiny, and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens alike presumed to be “foreign” based on how they look or sound.”
SB4, as the law is known, also requires local law-enforcement officials to cooperate with federal immigration authorities who request they detain people suspected of being in the US illegally.
The ACLU notice mimics the travel advisories published by the US State Department, designed to warn or alert Americans of potential dangers in foreign countries. The ACLU has only used this tactic once before, warning people about traveling to Arizona in 2010, after the state passed an even harsher provision, requiring officers to ask for immigration documents. The law resulted in a six-year legal battle eventually resolved in 2016, and hit the state with costs of boycotts and lost business.
The ACLU says it wants to protect Texans and travelers “regardless of their immigration status” from being illegally harassed. “Texas is a state with deep Mexican roots and home to immigrants from all walks of life. Many of us fit the racial profile that the police in Texas will use to enforce Trump’s draconian deportation force,” said Lorella Praeli, ACLU’s director of immigration policy and campaigns.
The ACLU vows to fight the ban in courts. “The Lone Star State will become a ‘show me your papers’ state, where every interaction with law enforcement can become a citizenship interrogation and potentially an illegal arrest,” added in the statement about the advisory Terri Burke, executive director of the group’s Texas branch.