We are deeply grieved that Texas House Republicans took what was already on its face a racist law in SB4 and made it even worse, turning it into true “show-me-your-papers” legislation. Every single Republican House member shamefully voted in favor of this bill.
SB4 is intentionally divisive legislation whose specific aim is to vilify Latinos and immigrants. It will make the task of local law enforcement even more difficult, it will break up families and it will sow anxiety and suspicion among members of minority communities around the state.
An attempt to “soften” this bill backfired when Rep Matt Schaefer, a hard-right extremist from Tyler, added an amendment onto the bill lifting language from the Senate version that would allow law enforcement to question a person’s immigration status while “detained”, not just under arrest. The definition of “detained” is so broad that it could mean anything.
Additionally, Republicans in the House voted down any attempts at exempting veterans, pregnant women, and even children from interrogation. It was appalling to witness, but again, unsurprising given that the GOP has introduced a Senate bill written by a lobbyist for the GEO Group, a prison company that runs the 830-bed Karnes County Residential Center, would allow the detention facilities to detain children who are seeking asylum for much longer than what is currently allowed.
There can be no clearer statement that the GOP in Texas is willing to target innocent children, break up families, and encourage constitutional violations like racial profiling and make ALL Texas communities less safe, solely to make immigrants feel unwelcome in Texas and score points with an extremist base, emboldened by Trump rhetoric.
Make no mistake: SB4 is specifically designed to satisfy white supremacists. It is “whitelash” in its purest form.
In Houston, Latinos are already reporting 40% fewer rapes so far this year, and it’s because of the fear of deportation. Once Greg Abbott signs this racist piece of legislation into law, it will have already led to an *increase* in crime. This law has nothing to do with keeping us safe.
In Texas, we are under direct attack by those who have been elected to protect us.
For the last three months, since Greg Abbott went onto the House Floor and spread lies about the Latino community to score points with white supremacists in this state, we’ve fought this every step of the way. We’ve occupied offices, we’ve flooded Reps with phone calls, we’ve protested loudly and often, and, once it was clear that the GOP was willing to ignore the law enforcement community and every shred of real, factual data on immigration and crime, we even went on a hunger strike.
Our resolve has never been stronger. We will continue to stand with the immigrant community and our allies against this hateful, wasteful and unnecessary bill. And we will see to it that each member who voted in favor of this bill is held accountable. They will never live this down.