Oct 9, 2017
The Intercept

Texas Sheriff Broke Promise to Keep ICE out of Local Jails

The Intercept wrote an investigation of Sheriff Sally Hernandez's new policy to honor all ICE detainers following the 5th Circuit Court's ruling on the injunction of SB 4. "'I think the bigger picture here is her honoring detainers will mean a lot more deportations for our communities,' said Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership. The group had run a campaign highlighting that Travis County, under the previous sheriff, had one of the highest deportation rates in the U.S." Read more about Texas Sheriff Broke Promise to Keep ICE out of Local Jails

Oct 1, 2017

Immigrants' Rights Groups Confront Fear And Confusion After Latest 'Sanctuary Cities' Ruling

"Bob Libal, executive director of the immigrants’ rights group Grassroots Leadership, said the constant fear of being deported can have an effect on peoples’ mental health. The Austin Police Department has had a verbal policy that officers will ask about a person's immigration status only if it's pertinent to the case – for example, in a case of human trafficking. Monday’s ruling didn't change the department's procedures very much. Officers will now track when and why they ask about immigration status. Libal said the fear of interacting with anyone who resembles law enforcement can also compromise physical health. 'During the immigration raids here in February,' he says, 'we saw things like declines in attendance at school, declines in people accepting rides in ambulances.' Read more about Immigrants' Rights Groups Confront Fear And Confusion After Latest 'Sanctuary Cities' Ruling"
Sep 28, 2017

Texas ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Case Ruling Gets Mixed Reactions

The ruling of the 5th Circuit Court on SB 4 "caused Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez... to change her policy and honor all immigration detention requests placed on inmates. Hernandez previously honored detainers when inmates were charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault or human trafficking while others were considered on a case-by-basis. 'As I have maintained throughout this process, I have not violated federal or state law, nor do I intend (to),' Hernandez told local media. 'Our policy has been updated to comply with the finding of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.' The decision is disappointing to immigration advocates in Texas who counted on Hernandez to stand with Democrats against a majority Republican state leadership on this divisive issue. 'It is massively disappointing for us to see our sheriff, who had such a strong stance on this, reverse her position,' said Cristina Parker, communications director for Grassroots Leadership. 'She got some bad information from [Texas Attorney General] Ken Paxton and other sources.' Penalties for violating SB4 include jail time and fines of up to $25,500 per day. Elected officials found in violation of the law could be forced out of office. Read more about Texas ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Case Ruling Gets Mixed Reactions"
Sep 25, 2017
KUT 90.5

After Court Ruling, Travis County Will Comply With All ICE Detention Requests

In response to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' preliminary ruling on SB 4, Sheriff Sally Hernandez announced that she would change Travis County policy to honor all ICE detentions, countering her previous policy to limit ICE intervention in local jails. Grassroots Leadership executive director Bob Libal said, “Any policy changes that lead to deportations from Travis County have the potential to be deadly. We really need our elected officials to stand up now and fight legally and also through creative policies to reduce the number of deportations from our community.” Read more about After Court Ruling, Travis County Will Comply With All ICE Detention Requests
Sep 25, 2017
The Patch

Federal Court Stays Texas SB 4 Law Compelling Local Law Enforcement To Cooperate With ICE

In response to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling on SB 4, local officials and activists commented on the court's ruling. Grassroots Leadership upholds that no matter the court ruling, we know the deadly consequences of ICE detainers, detention, and deportation. '"We won’t wait for the courts to tell us what we all know to be true: SB4 is nothing but an attack on immigrant communities,' Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership, said... In conveying the law's flaws, Muñoz referenced a recent case involving a young immigrant who had escaped the violence of his native Mexico only to be deported and promptly murdered upon his return by the very criminal gangs he fled. The chain of events leading to the death of Juan Coronilla-Guerrero began when ICE agents tracked his whereabouts to the Travis County Courthouse where he reported to a judge on a matter unrelated to his status." Read more about Federal Court Stays Texas SB 4 Law Compelling Local Law Enforcement To Cooperate With ICE

Sep 1, 2017
United We Dream

Grassroots Continues Work Following SB4 Injunction

Community leaders and immigration rights organizations gathered outside the Governor's Mansion to celebrate the injunction of SB4 and say "the fight for our dignity continues." Bob Libal, Executive Director at Grassroots, said: “We will continue to organize to put up barriers against Trump’s deportation forces and say 'ni una más,' not one more deportation. We will continue working with our City Council to push for local policies that protect Black and immigrant communities from entering the incarceration and deportation pipelines. We are a strong and united community, building solidarity with each other regardless of immigration status, gender, religious and other identities.” #WithLove4TX Read more about Grassroots Continues Work Following SB4 Injunction
Aug 31, 2017

Texas Advocates Respond to Injunction Ruling on Majority of Discriminatory SB4

Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling blocks significant portions of the law including mandating cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers in local jails, restricting the free speech of local officials, and punishing local police that choose not to inquire about an individual’s immigration status.

This ruling is also the latest in a string that found Texas laws to be discriminatory against people of color.


Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership, said, “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. 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." Read more about Texas Advocates Respond to Injunction Ruling on Majority of Discriminatory SB4

Jul 14, 2017
The Austin Chronicle

Narrowly Evading Deportation Over July Fourth Weekend

Thursday, June 29, began like any other day for the Guerrero family. Martin Guer­rero Alvarado, the patriarch, left early for work at his construction firm. His daughter Alicia hopped in her car a half-hour later, and went off to her internship at theGrassroots Leadership office in East Austin, 45 minutes outside her family's home in Dripping Springs.

But a mile into her drive, Alicia noticed that a Hays County Sheriff's deputy had pulled someone over. It caught her eye because the vehicle, she told theChronicle, looked like her father's truck. As she got closer, the 26-year-old graduate student saw her father handcuffed next to his truck.


Guerrero Alvarado expected to be released from the Hays County Jail in San Marcos within 48 hours. After all, a Hays County judge had already waived his bail bond, and all he would need to do, he was told, was make a court appearance and be free to go.

"But that didn't happen," he said. Instead, he was placed on a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold, though he was in the process of obtaining legal residency. Per department policy, the HCSO had notified the federal agency of his undocumented status – information Guer­rero Alvarado offered, noted HCSO spokesperson Lt. Dennis Gutierrez. (Under the Secure Communities program, ICE automatically gets fingerprints of people who've been arrested or booked, then uses that information to determine whether it will take enforcement action.) ICE requested a detainer, which the HCSO honored.

Immigration rights activists say Guerrero Alvarado's situation is indicative of what will happen once Senate Bill 4 – the anti-immigration legislation signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May – takes effect Sept. 1. SB 4 would require local law enforcement agencies to comply with otherwise optional ICE detainer requests, as well as letting officers question a person's immigration status when they're detained – like, say, during a traffic stop. Opponents say that last provision of the law codifies racial profiling, and will also lead to hundreds of thousands more immigrants being arrested, detained, and deported from the United States, a country they call home.

"This is the kind of case that we expect to see all the time under SB 4," said Bethany Carson, an immigration policy researcher and organizer at Grassroots Leadership. "Immigrant families have a lot to lose."


But to his family, ICE's timing seemed off. According to detainer policy, an immigrant booked or arrested at a local jail is taken into ICE custody within 48 hours after their detainment, not including weekends or holidays. Since Guerrero Alvarado's bond was waived on Friday, and the Fourth of July fell that following Tuesday, ICE agents should have scheduled his pickup for the morning of Wednesday, July 5.

At least that's what Alicia, her family's immigration attorney, and members of Grassroots Leadership deduced from ICE's own policy. "Monday and Wednesday. It would have been those two days," Alicia said. "We just immediately underwent this shock. We didn't know what to do."

That Saturday, Alicia, her family, and Grassroots Leader­ship held a protest outside of the Hays County Jail, demanding Guerrero Alvarado's release. Grassroots also organized hundreds of calls and emails to Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler objecting to Guerrero Alvarado's detainer.

A few hours after the protest ended, ICE dropped its hold on Guerrero Alvarado without explanation. Though his release is the "outcome that we hoped for," said Carson, "it still came as a surprise. It's very rare that ICE would release someone after requesting a detainer." Read more about Narrowly Evading Deportation Over July Fourth Weekend

May 8, 2017

Gov. Abbott Signs 'Sanctuary City' Ban: 'Texans Expect Us to Keep Them Safe'

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a "sanctuary cities" ban into law on Facebook Live Sunday night. 


Abbott designated the ban as an emergency item in January and signed the bill four days after both chambers of the state legislature gave their final approval. 

The passage is a big win for Abbott and Republicans, who advocate for stricter immigration laws.  They have tried to pass a limit on immigration every session since 2011. 


It will ban cities, counties and universities from prohibiting their local law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status and enforcing immigration law. 

It will create a criminal charge for police chiefs, county sheriffs and constables who violate the ban, and will charge local jurisdictions up to $25,000 for each day they violate the law. 

The law will also allow police officers to ask about a person's immigration status during any legal detention, which includes traffic stops. 


Those who support the ban say it is necessary to keep criminal immigrants off Texas streets. They argue that if officers do not turn over unauthorized immigrants they could go on to commit more serious crimes. 

Critics, however, view the matter differently.

"It seems fitting that Greg Abbott would sign this disgraceful bill on the internet on a Sunday night, far from the press and the public," Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, said.  Read more about Gov. Abbott Signs 'Sanctuary City' Ban: 'Texans Expect Us to Keep Them Safe'


Subscribe to RSS - SB4