What is Texas Senate Bill 4?
On May 4, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law SB4, one of the nation’s most rigorous anti-immigrant laws passed since Donald Trump took office. It bans “sanctuary cities” where immigrants are protected in that local police officers are limited in asking for or disclosing someone’s immigration status.
The Texas bill would enable local police to ask about someone’s immigration status when they are initially detained — even if they have not yet been charged with a crime. Those who do not comply with the law could be fined up to $25,500 per day and face misdemeanor charges.
The bill is scheduled to go into effect on September 1, 2017.
What has the response been so far?
Just one day after Texas’ governor signed the bill into law, city and county officials in Texas filed a lawsuit against both the Governor and State Attorney General Ken Paxton. Since then, the four largest cities in Texas – Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin – have joined the lawsuit, along with other organizations throughout Texas. Supporters of the lawsuit argue that the bill would violate the Constitution by impeding free speech and equal protection. Several local and national civil rights groups, labor unions and legal experts have condemned the law.
How would Texas Senate Bill 4 affect LGBTQ and API communities?
Immigrants’ rights and LGBTQ rights are deeply intertwined.
Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial minority group in the country. Asian Americans are also the largest segment of both legal and undocumented immigrants coming to the U.S. One million Asian Americans are undocumented. In Texas, 44% of the state’s population is Latino, Asian American, or Arab American. Texas SB 4 would equally subject both Latino and Asian Americans to illegal profiling regarding immigration status.
There is an estimated 263,000 LGBTQ API immigrants, of which nearly 40,000 are undocumented. Studies have found the LGBT undocumented immigrant population to be disproportionately Asian.
Texas SB 4 would subject LGBT people who are ethnic and racial minorities to discriminatory stops and unlimited questioning about their immigration status by local law enforcement.
Moreover, LGBT people have also been historically harassed by local law enforcement. Not too long ago, same-sex sexual relations were illegal and police often raided gay bars. We must take a stand against Texas Senate Bill 4, because no one should be singled out and discriminated against merely for looking Latino, gay, Asian, queer, Muslim, or trans.
What you can do?
Second, help your LGBTQ and API family take a stand against the bill by writing a letter to city mayors, council members, and other local officials in Texas localities that have not yet joined the lawsuit challenging the bill. For instance, Fort Worth City Council has not yet voted on the matter.
Third, join the fight. NQAPIA works with several LGBTQ API community groups in Texas, including Coalition of Houston Asian Americans (CHAA), Khush-ATX in Austin, and Dragonflies in Dallas who are standing up for our community.