Austin communities react to judge’s preliminary injunction halting SB4, Texas’ racial profiling law

August 30, 2017

Groups will rally at city hall on Thursday to call on city to continue to fight for policies that protect Black, Brown and poor people in Austin from unnecessary arrest, incarceration, and deportation

WHAT: Rally and street theater celebrating SB4 injunction, demanding safety for black and brown communities in Austin

WHO: Austin communities and allies impacted by SB4 including Austin Sanctuary Network, Grassroots Leadership, United We Dream, and University Leadership Initiative, Worker’s Defense Project, and Youth Rise Texas  

WHEN:  Thursday, August 31, at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Front steps of Austin City Hall, 301 W 2nd St.

(AUSTIN, Texas) — A U.S. District Judge in San Antonio issued a preliminary injunction that will halt the extreme anti-immigrant bill passed earlier this year by Texas lawmakers. The decision is a victory for immigrant communities in Texas who fought to stop the passage of the law, known as SB4.

Despite the injunction, communities in Austin who are most impacted by racial profiling are calling on the City of Austin to put in place policies that will keep Black and Brown communities safe from unnecessary arrest, incarceration, and deportation. They say that in spite of the judge’s decision on SB4, local leaders must stand strong against any and all attacks on people of color in Texas.

“This injunction is a great victory for all Texans against a hateful bill put forward and signed by Greg Abbott.  Despite the injunction, Texas remains ground-zero for attacks on immigrant families. SB4 always was and will prove to be about nothing more than encouraging police to racially profile people of color,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership. “We applaud our local officials for challenging this law, and call on all our local officials to renew resistance to anti-immigrant hate. Our community has the power to enact policies that will protect community members in our city from unnecessary arrest, incarceration, and deportation."

Carmen Zuvieta is a local leader in the immigrant community who has been fighting to stop deportations in Austin for years. That includes the long, successful campaign to end the S-Comm deportation program at the Travis County Jail. Responding in Spanish to today’s news, Zuvieta said, “El estado de Texas está muy lejos de visualizarnos como humanos. Para ellos, solo tenemos un sentido de negocios a travez de las compañías de centros de detención. Pero nosotros seguiremos resistiendo e exigiendo el derecho que la naturaleza nos otorga (humanidad) y nos queda claro vivimos en un estado racista e hipócrita. Que se enriquese a travez de supresión y opresión de el sector humano más vulnerable.”

Chris Harris, an organizer with Grassroots Leadership and author of a recent report on racial disparities in the Travis County Jail said, “With SB4, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and the State of Texas have tried to add to this country's legacy of discriminatory laws designed to criminalize people of color and other marginalized groups under the guise of protecting public safety. SB4 stands alongside not just SB1070 and other anti-immigrants bills, but also stop-and-frisk policies and Rockefeller drug laws and so many other efforts aimed at demonizing members of our society in order to justify treating them as second-class citizens.”

Despite the injunction, the threat of deportation remains high in Texas. In Austin, La Linea Defensa Comunitaria (The Community Defense Hotline) is an immigration crisis line which provides resources and support to community members in the midst of a deportation crisis and/or others scared and seeking help. Community volunteers answer La Linea from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day at 512-270-1515.

In the rest of Texas, anyone who is targeted or profiled can call the ACLU immigrants’ rights hotline at 1-888-507-2970 or file a report on their website.

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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past.

Contact: 

Cristina Parker, cparker@grassrootsleadership.org, 512-499-8111