Is Texas seeking to legalize racism with new SB4 Law?

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: Freepik

Exactly 23 years ago, Arizona sought to implement Bill SB 1070, the most radical Bill up to that point in the history of the United States.

Shortly before coming into effect, a judge stopped its most controversial measures, and shortly after, the Supreme Court rejected its most extreme clauses as unconstitutional.

For example, the court denied that Arizona police could arrest migrants without a warrant, make it a state offense when undocumented immigrants do not provide registration documents, and prohibit them from applying for a job.

Almost a quarter of a century later, the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, an acolyte of Donald Trump, wants to explore the limits of immigration constitutionality with the enactment this week of the controversial Law SB4.

The law, which goes into effect in March, would allow Texas Department of Public Safety police officers to detain and summarily deport to Mexico, without due process under the law, immigrants who are suspected of having entered Texas illegally.

Migrants would have the option of accepting a deportation order from a judge or being charged with a misdemeanor. If they repeat their behavior, the legislation establishes a prison sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

“It is a direct and blatant attack against our communities, legalizing what essentially constitute acts of racism,” lawyer Rafael Borrás tells me. “This law is not only an affront to justice, but also undermines fundamental principles of equality and respect for human rights. “We are outraged.”

Fortunately, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took action on the matter and plans to file a preemptive lawsuit to have the documentation ready for the moment the legislation comes into effect and seek to stop its application.

That the ACLU, which has historically been a champion in fighting and advocating for civil rights, would seek to stop this law is applaudable, but we expect similarly urgent action from the Department of Justice, as it did with Arizona’s SB 1070 legislation in 2010.

The federal government has the obligation to reaffirm its exclusive authority over the planning and execution of immigration policies, or else we will have a chaos of potentially contradictory legislation in the 50 states of the country. Abbott does not have the support of all of the police departments in his state. Several of them worry about being overwhelmed by the potential number of migrants they would have to imprison.

Other organizations fear a deterioration in security in Texas, since the new law could discourage migrants from reporting crimes or cooperating with local authorities for fear of being arrested outright.

Furthermore, if Abbott’s grotesque circus has a political-electoral component, it is undeniable that a comprehensive solution to the immigration problem is required, a task of great significance that requires political will and high-ranking figures in both the White House and the Congress. Sadly, none of that is on the immediate horizon.