Senate Bill 4, a controversial anti-sanctuary cities law signed by Texas Governor Gregg Abbott this summer has led an immigration lawyers’ convention to boycott the state.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association was planning to hold a three-day event in Grapevine, Texas. The AILA Grapevine conference was booked years ago, and could face financial penalties for pulling out.
However, the immigration lawyers’ convention was pulled in protest at what it termed “dangerous, destructive and counterproductive proposals” contrary to the group’s mission. About 3,000 people were meant to attend the convention in Grapevine.
The association has 15,000 members. It comprises law professors and attorneys. The convention was held outside Texas in protest at Senate Bill 4, a contentious measure meant to crack down on sanctuary cities, the Texas Tribune reported.
AILA president Bill Stock told reporters during a conference many members felt unwilling to bring themselves or their families to Texas because of the legislation.
“Our members are U.S. citizens and green card holders, but many of them come from ethnic communities where they felt that they [would] being unfairly targeted.”
SB 4, a measure held up by the courts, has been criticized as a discriminatory measure by its opponents. It allows law enforcement officials to question the immigration status of people legally arrested or detained.
It also brings criminal sanctions against city and law enforcement officers who fail to honor detainer requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
A group of Texas cities joined forces to oppose the measure in the courts. They include Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso and El Cenizo and El Paso and Maverick counties.
Abbott and his supports say the measure is necessary to make Texas safer and crack down on illegal immigration. Opponents say its language is wide enough to lead to racial profiling and other discriminatory practices.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a suit against the bill on behalf of San Antonio City Councilman Rey Saldaña and three nonprofit groups: La Unión Del Pueblo Entero, the Worker’s Defense Project and the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education.
The American Civil Liberties Union has warned its members against traveling to Texas over the new legislation.
If you feel you have been unfairly questioned about your immigration status or are in a deportation action, please call our Austin immigration lawyers today at (512) 474-4445.