The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) announced last week that it is pulling their 15th Annual National Summit of State Legislators from Texas due to the anti-Latino, anti-rule of law bill enacted by the State known as SB4. The group was scheduled to hold their annual conclave in Austin in November but in the aftermath of SB4 it has decided to move their convention to Chicago instead. NHCSL thus becomes the first major national Latino organization to boycott the Lone Star State because of its strong opposition to the controversial law.
“Texas’ SB4 is a ‘show me your papers law’ on steroids. As Latino state legislators, we cannot in good conscience invest in a great state that nonetheless has chosen to scapegoat immigrants and minorities while making communities there less safe and turning innocent Latinos into targets,” NHCSL President and Pennsylvania State Representative Ángel Cruz said. “Contrary to popular belief, SB4 does not just eliminate state and local sanctuary policies, it criminalizes the speech of public officials who support such common-sense practices and subjects them to removal from office if they even speak out against laws like SB4. This should be unacceptable to anyone in 21st Century America; and it certainly is for NHCSL,” Cruz concluded.
“As Latino state legislators, we cannot in good conscience invest in a great state that nonetheless has chosen to scapegoat immigrants and minorities while making communities there less safe and turning innocent Latinos into targets.”
Texas State Representative Roberto Alonzo, said that: “SB4 undermines the rule of law and wastes limited resources on unnecessary racial profiling instead of fighting crime. This law encourages abuse by some law enforcement officials who will now have cart blanche to harass anyone, including US citizens, just for who they are and not for any crime they have committed. The statute is so extreme that a witness could be cooperating with the police to solve a crime and be handed over to ICE. I fought this bill on the Texas House floor, I have not introduced a bill to repeal it, and am proud that my fellow Latino state legislators from across the country have joined us in standing up for what’s right.”
SB4 was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on May 7, 2017 and goes into effect on September 1st of this year. Among the most questionable provisions in the law, SB4 forbids cities, towns, counties, and universities from becoming or remaining sanctuary cities or sanctuary colleges for undocumented immigrants. The law also allows the Attorney General of Texas to request that the Texas State Court remove from office any elected or appointed official even for endorsing a sanctuary policy or enforcing one already in place. SB4 even subjects local law enforcement – and even campus police departments – to fines of up to $25,000 for merely refusing to ask individuals about their immigration status or reporting it.
“Chicago is exactly the type of city that welcomes immigrants, respects the rule of law, and protects communities by working together with all residents, regardless of their immigration status, to keep their neighborhoods safe. We are thrilled to be holding our annual summit in the Windy City and look forward to productive week while we’re there. Chicago is a model for other cities to emulate when it comes to the critical collaboration that needs to be nurtured between law enforcement and the communities they serve and that is why we chose this forward-thinking city for our annual Summit of Hispanic State Legislators,” NHCSL Executive Director Kenneth Romero-Cruz said.
Among the state organizations that opposed SB4 are: The Trust Coalition, the Texas Association of Business, the Association of Hispanic Evangelical Ministers, the police chiefs of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin along with the Sheriff’s Departments of Bexar County (San Antonio) and El Paso County, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Workers Defense Project, the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance (RITA), the Texas Association of Business, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, the University Leadership Initiative, the Texas NAACP, among several others.
For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.