The American Civil Liberties Union issued an alert Tuesday to those traveling to or through Texas, warning that the state’s newly signed harsh immigration law could lead to authorities violating visitors’ constitutional rights.
The travel alert cautions that the law gives a “green light” to Texas law enforcement officials “to investigate a person’s immigration status during a routine traffic stop.” This could lead to “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,” the alert said.
The law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday allows law officers to question anyone’s immigration status, including college students ― even though another Texas law allows undocumented immigrants to attend universities paying in-state tuition rates.
The Texas law harkens back to Arizona’s so-called “show me your papers” act from 2010, which a court settlement weakened last year.
Although the Texas law doesn’t go into effect until Sept. 1, the ACLU said it’s concerned some law enforcement officers may already be using it.
“Texas is a state with deep Mexican roots and home to immigrants from all walks of life,” Lorella Praeli, the ACLU’s director of immigration policy and campaigns, said in a statement. “Many of us fit the racial profile that the police in Texas will use to enforce” what she termed President Donald Trump’s “draconian deportation force.”
The Texas law also undoes the state’s so-called “sanctuary” policies, which empower jurisdictions to decline requests from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to hold undocumented immigrants in custody on the agency’s behalf, shielding them from federal authorities. Currently, the U.S. Justice Department doesn’t view those requests as mandatory.
ACLU affiliates in several states, including California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York and South Carolina, also issued travel alerts on the Texas law.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s responded to the travel alerts on Twitter, sparking a reply from the ACLU.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has already said it plans to file a lawsuit challenging the law.