A small border town, El Cenizo, in Texas – with an estimated population of nearly 3,500 people – has filed a lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 4 (SB 4). The lawsuit was filed by Luis Vera, an attorney with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) on behalf of the town, which is 99 percent Latinx. The bill was recently signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Abbott signed the bill on May 7, making it mandatory for all the law enforcement to cooperate with immigration officials or face jail time.The lawsuit states that the small border town should be able to continue being a “safe haven,” as per an ordinance passed by the local government in 1999. The ordinance restricts city employees from inquiring about immigration status.
Under Abbott’s new law, the cities, counties, and universities in Texas will be required to divulge information regarding the immigration status of individuals, if asked. Local officers will be able to enforce immigration law with fewer restrictions. The officials can inquire about a person’s immigration status during any type of legal detention, including traffic stops.
If police chiefs, county sheriffs, constables and other law enforcement officials violate the ban, the relevant jurisdictions will be charged up to US$25,000 for each day in violation.
Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement, “This racist and wrongheaded piece of legislation ignores our values, imperils our communities and sullies our reputation as a free and welcoming state.”