ACLU Issues Texas Travel Advisory Following Sanctuary City Ban

By Yessenia Funes May 10, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a “travel alert” for Texas yesterday (May 9), warning visitors about possible constitutional rights violations by law enforcement officers.

On May 7, the state passed Senate Bill 4 (SB4), which will prohibit officials from designating their municipalities and campuses as “sanctuary cities” starting September 1, 2017. Sanctuary cities attempt to protect undocumented residents by limiting local law enforcement communication with federal immigration authorities. Any police chief or sheriff who violates the Texas ban could be removed from office, and local jurisdictions could be hit with fines up to $25,000.

The ACLU elaborates on the law in an online statement:

The law gives a green light to police officers in the state to investigate a person’s immigration status during a routine traffic stop, leading 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 travel alert applies to all travelers to Texas, including U.S. travelers from other states and U.S. citizens. In addition, this alert applies to all encounters with federal, state, county law enforcement including local police and sheriffs.

Texas isn’t the first state to implement a statewide ban on sanctuary cities. North Carolina issued a similar ban in 2015, as did Mississippi in March. Southern states like Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia have also passed similar legislation, CNN reports.

“Everyone has constitutional rights in this country,” Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns, said in the statement. “The state of Texas, and every law enforcement officer, must respect those rights. The ACLU stands ready to safeguard those freedoms against those who seek to diminish them.”