AILA Condemns Enactment of Texas “Sanctuary City” Bill

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) condemns the enactment of Texas Senate Bill 4, which will become effective September 1. The legislation encourages unacceptable profiling of people based on immigration status and will undermine the public safety of local communities. This "show me your papers" law is almost certainly unconstitutional as it will force law enforcement officers in Texas to honor federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, which courts have already concluded put local jurisdictions at risk of legal liability for violating the Constitution. The Texas bill is a direct attack on local police and sheriff's authority to keep their own communities safe: the bill imposes stiff penalties, including jail time and removal from office if a local official refuses to honor a detainer or to participate in federal immigration enforcement.

AILA President William A. Stock noted, "There is no legal definition of 'sanctuary city' and our country's laws prohibit racial profiling, but neither of those facts swayed Governor Abbott and the Texas legislators who voted for this bill. This law will lead to court challenges as the state tries to force localities to act contrary to the Constitution. Making state authorities complicit in warrantless immigration detention through state law will not benefit anyone - immigrants are integral to our communities and requiring state and local police to participate in a 'deportation force' will undermine community trust. AILA stands against this sort of counterproductive and unconstitutional legislation, today and always."

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson said, "Across the state of Texas and our nation the response to SB4 has been loud and clear: these kinds of destructive policies make us less safe and put fundamental rights and values at risk. Voices are being lifted against this bill in an effort to protect families and communities from this ill-advised and abhorrent policy. While this law's impact will surely be challenged in court, we also look to our members, partners, and other stakeholders to stand up for the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans. AILA will continue to oppose policies that promote racial profiling and that put local police in the position of jeopardizing their communities' safety and violating the Constitution."


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 17050840.