Senate Bill 4’s passing causes ACLU and local affiliates to issue travel alert in Texas

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has issued a travel alert for anyone planning to travel to Texas in the future.

The alert comes from future anticipation of possible violations of constitutional rights when being stopped by law enforcement.

Since the passing of Senate Bill 4 in Texas, which goes into effect on September 1, the ACLU is warning immigrants who could be harassed by police.

The bill allows the green light for police officers to investigate a person’s immigration status during a routine traffic stop believing to lead to widespread racial profiling and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens presumed to be “foreign” based on how they sound or look.

The travel alert applies to all Texas travelers including travelers from other states. This alert applies to encounters with state, county and federal law enforcement.

Local ACLU affiliates have also issued a Texas travel alert including states Louisiana, Colorado, New Mexico and California.

“It is simply a matter of time before illegal arrests occur,” executive director of the ACLU of Texas, Terri Burke, said in a statement, “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.”

Senate Bill 4 requires Texas law enforcement to comply with the government’s request which asks for local police to hold people for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) even when they don’t have the legal authority to do so.

“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,” ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns, Lorella Praeli, said in a statement, “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.”

Although SB4 goes into effect in September, the ACLU is worried that some law enforcement will begin to treat travelers and residents unfairly now.