Opinion: SB 4 and SB 1018 Can Be Texas’ Political Awakening

In 1994, my home state of California passed Proposition 187, a ballot initiative that prohibited undocumented immigrants from using non-emergency health care, public education, and other services in the state. This led to widespread fear and uncertainty among immigrants, but it also underscored a political awakening in the American Latino community, and has changed California politics. Just last week, Texas passed a harmful bill that follows in the hateful footsteps of Prop 187, and Arizona’s infamous “show me your papers” law, SB 1070.

On Sunday, May 7, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 into law, while families across the country gathered together around the dinner table. He did it maliciously and cowardly by tweeting that he was getting his signing pen “warm” and then signing the bill on Facebook Live, no less.

While masked as a law enforcement bill, Senate Bill 4 is a nationalist policy similar to others that have been defeated in the courts. It goes against everything we stand for as Americans. To be clear: this bill doesn’t discriminate. It gives open license for abuse. It makes any American, of any shade or accent, vulnerable to unjust racial profiling.

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It makes our children vulnerable to discrimination and prejudice.

This new law, which is set to take effect on September 1, but will surely be challenged in the courts, targets millions of undocumented immigrants and people of color, even if they are U.S. citizens. In the words of Texas state Senator Sylvia Garcia, “it turns a broken taillight, to a broken family, to a broken faith in our system”.

This law will drive victims and witnesses into the shadows and leave domestic violence victims fearful of contacting the police. It will target children by allowing officers to ask for their immigration status or the status of their parents.


In this Sunday, May 7, 2017 frame from video posted by the Office of the Governor, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signs a so-called “sanctuary cities” ban in Austin Texas. (Office of Gov. Abbott via AP)