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ACLU of Hawaii warns residents traveling to Texas

  • AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN VIA AP

    U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett spoke during a protest outside of the Texas Governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas, on Monday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii says residents planning to travel to Texas should be prepared for racial profiling in the wake of a controversial new immigration enforcement law in the Lone Star State.

ACLU of Hawaii issued a press release Tuesday, two days after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the immigration enforcement law known as Senate Bill 4, and four months before it goes into effect.

“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 Hawaii in the press release. “Hawaii 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.”

SB4 would grant sweeping new powers to police officers by allowing them to question a person’s immigration status if they have been detained with reasonable suspicion. The legislation also would prohibit local jurisdictions from passing or enforcing ordinances that prevent police officers from inquiring about a detained person’s immigration status.

“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.

The ACLU has issued such a “travel alert” at least once before, after Arizona in 2010 adopted a law mandating that local law enforcement officers check immigration status.

“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,” said Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns.

The New York Times News Service contributed to this report.

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