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ACLU of Hawaiʻi Issues Texas Travel Advisory

June 12, 2017, 11:00 AM HST
* Updated June 12, 8:09 AM
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Hawai‘i residents traveling to Texas may be in danger of having their constitutional rights violated, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Hawaiʻi. The organization advises future travelers to anticipate possible violations if they are stopped by law enforcement officials.

The alert is in response to the passing of a Texas law called SB4. The law allows police officers in the state to investigate a personʻs immigration status during a routine traffic stop. ACLU of Hawai‘i contends that the law–which goes into effect on September 1 this year–will lead to racial profiling and illegal arrests of both citizens and noncitizens based on their appearance or way of speaking.

The travel alert applies to all U.S. travelers from other states encountering federal, state and county law enforcement officials 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,” said Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns. “Texas is a state with deep Mexican roots and home to immigrants from all walks of life. Many of us fit the racial profile that the police in Texas will use to enforce Trump’s draconian deportation force.”

SB4 requires Texas law enforcement to comply with the federal government’s use of detainer requests, which ask local law enforcement to hold people for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The ACLU said the practice is unconstitutional, and local law enforcement lack the legal authority to do so.

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“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. “Hawaiʻi is the most diverse state in the U.S. 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.”

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Between 2008 and 2012, ICE requested that local law enforcement hold 834 U.S. citizens, some of whom spent days in jail, according to the ACLU.

“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 Hawai‘i’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,” said Caballero. “SB4 and similar policies targeting immigrants simply do not reflect Hawai‘i’s core values.”

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.”

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ACLU National and other local ACLU affiliates have also issued a Texas travel alert including:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • Pennsylvania

Although SB4 does not go into effect until September 1, the ACLU is concerned that some law enforcement officers may begin practicing the provisions of the law prematurely.

The ACLU of Texas asks anyone who believes their rights have been violated as a result of SB4 to call 1-888-507-2970.

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