On Sunday night, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, signed a new law that lets police officers ask about immigration status during traffic stops and arrests, and on college campuses, if they suspect that a person could be in the country illegally.
Under the "show me your papers" measure of Senate Bill 4, the person does not need to be under arrest in order to be asked for immigration papers. The American Civil Liberties Union believes the law will result in illegal arrests of people who are assumed to be "foreign" based on their looks or accents.
On Monday, the ACLU issued a "travel alert" which advises anyone in or traveling to Texas that they could experience a violation of their constitutional rights when stopped by law enforcement.
This is being called the toughest law on immigration since Arizona's crackdown in 2010. Opponents say it will result in many more deportations as well as a harmful effect on immigrant families.
The law is not supposed to take effect until Sept. 1, but it is possible that enforcement will begin sooner. The ACLU of Texas said it will be fighting to block the law in court starting now.
Even Police Oppose the New Law
Every major police chief in the state was against the proposed law, which also threatens to put sheriffs in jail if they do not work with federal immigration agents, such as by detaining criminal suspects for potential deportation.
The police chiefs said the law causes immigrants to distrust law enforcement and could cause public safety hazards. For example, undocumented immigrants may be less likely to report crime such as rape and domestic abuse for fear of being deported.
Senate Bill 4 also bans "sanctuary cities" and "sanctuary campuses" in Texas.
What To Do If You Have Immigration Problems
If you are detained by law enforcement based on your immigration status, you will need to contact an immigration lawyer immediately. You will also want to work with an immigration lawyer if you or family members have immigration issues that need to be resolved before the new law takes effect.
Additionally, if you believe that your rights have been violated because the new law, you can contact the ACLU of Texas at 1-888-507-2970.