HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a “travel alert” following the passage of Texas Senate Bill 4. The organization released a statement on Tuesday to notify anyone planning on traveling to Texas that they would need "to anticipate the possible violation of their constitutional rights when stopped by law enforcement."
The "travel alert" does not exclude U.S. travelers from other states and U.S. citizens.
“We asked the national office of the ACLU to issue the travel alert,” said Terri Burke Executive Director of the Texas ACLU.
The American Civil Liberties Union is telling anyone traveling to Texas to anticipate the possible violation of their civil rights when stopped by law enforcement.
The alert follows the passage of SB4 which prohibits sanctuary cities.
The ACLU says it’s alert is similar to those issued by Homeland Security when U.S. citizens travel to certain foreign countries.
“We’re doing the same thing,” Burke said. “If you’re coming to Texas and you look foreign born you probably need to know about this new law.”
The ACLU says U.S. citizens should heed the alert as well.
“Absolutely we all come in all colors and looks and so I think if you don’t look like a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Anglo, maybe you’re at risk for being asked for your papers,” Burke said.
While some say the new law, which doesn’t take effect until September 1, will make Texas safer the ACLU says it fears the opposite.
“People commit crimes, people see it, and if you are an immigrant who fears an encounter with law enforcement you’re not going to report the crime,” said Burke.
“My son was brutally murdered, tortured, set on fire after death by someone in this country illegally, and I believe nobody gets sanctuary from the law,” said Laura Wilkerson.
Wilkerson is a staunch supporter of SB 4 and calls the ACLU’s travel alert laughable and absurd.
“You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to fear,” Wilkerson said. “I don’t think they’re going to stop anyone because of their race.”
That’s what the ACLU says it fears the most.
“It invites racial profiling,” Burke said.
The Harris County Republican Party calls the ACLU’s travel alert silly and says the group should read the actual law which the party says expressly forbids any unlawful discrimination.
The local GOP Party is even accusing the ACLU of spreading misinformation.
The ACLU released this release about the travel alert:
“The ACLU’s goal is to protect all Texans and all people traveling through Texas — regardless of their immigration status — from illegal harassment by law enforcement,” said Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns. “Texas is a state with deep Mexican roots and home to immigrants from all walks of life. Many of us fit the racial profile that the police in Texas will use to enforce Trump’s draconian deportation force.”
“We plan to fight this racist and wrongheaded law in the courts and in the streets. Until we defeat it, everyone traveling in or to Texas needs to be aware of what’s in store for them,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. “The Lone Star State will become a ‘show me your papers’ state, where every interaction with law enforcement can become a citizenship interrogation and potentially an illegal arrest.”
“It is simply a matter of time before illegal arrests occur," added Burke. "Local law enforcement will have to decide between violating a person’s rights and being severely fined, thrown in jail, or even being removed from office for choosing not to do so.”
“Everyone has constitutional rights in this country Praeli. "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.”
Other ACLU affiliates in the following states also issued the Texas "travel alert" statement:
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
SB4 takes effect on September 1, 2017.