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ACLU Hawaiʻi Issues Texas Travel Advisory

May 9, 2017, 5:35 PM HST (Updated May 9, 2017, 5:36 PM) · 11 Comments
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The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaiʻi issued a travel alert today informing any Hawaiʻi residents planning to travel to Texas in the near future to “anticipate the possible violation of their constitutional rights when stopped by law enforcement.”

Big Island Now stock photo.

The alert comes amid the passing of a Texas law known as SB4. The law gives a green light to police officers in the state to investigate a person’s immigration status during a routine traffic stop. ACLU Hawaiʻi claims this will “lead to widespread racial profiling, baseless scrutiny, and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens alike presumed to be ‘foreign’ based on how they look or sound.”

The travel alert applies to all travelers to Texas, including US travelers from other states and US citizens. In addition, the ACLU advises that this alert applies to all encounters with federal, state, and county law enforcement including local police and sheriffs.

“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. Texas is a state with deep Mexican roots and home to immigrants from all walks of life,” said Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns.

She continued saying, “Many of us fit the racial profile that the police in Texas will use to enforce,” what she called, “Trump’s draconian deportation force.”

SB4 requires Texas law enforcement to comply with the federal government’s constitutionally flawed use of detainer requests, which ask local law enforcement to hold people for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, even when they lack the legal authority to do so.

“Hawaiʻi residents traveling to Texas need to be prepared for illegal harassment and racial profiling by local authorities when they get there,” said Mateo Caballero, legal director of the ACLU of Hawaiʻi warned.

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“Hawaiʻi is the most diverse state in the US and we pride ourselves on the multitude of cultures represented on our islands. It is a sad day when we feel it necessary to advise our residents that it is precisely that diversity that makes them vulnerable to racial profiling and constitutional violations if they travel to Texas,” said Caballero.

Between 2008 and 2012, ICE requested local law enforcement to hold 834 US citizens, some of whom the ACLU states, “subsequently spent days in jail as a result.” Under SB4, the state of Texas is placing the rights of its residents, including U.S. citizens, in extreme jeopardy.

“At a time when some state lawmakers on the continent are turning their backs on their own residents with racist and hateful laws such as SB4, we encourage Hawaii’s local and state leaders to reaffirm their commitment to inclusion and aloha by refusing to play accomplice to the Trump administration’s unconstitutional immigration agenda. SB4 and similar policies targeting immigrants simply do not reflect Hawaii’s core values,” said Caballero.

Praeli said, “Everyone has constitutional rights in this country. The state of Texas, and every law enforcement officer, must respect those rights. The ACLU stands ready to safeguard those freedoms against those who seek to diminish them.”

ACLU National and other local ACLU affiliates also issued a Texas travel alert for areas including: California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaiʻi, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Pennsylvania.

SB4 will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2017; however, the ACLU has expressed concerned that “some law enforcement officers may begin to treat residents and travelers unfairly now.”

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