Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ACLU Texas Travel Advisory in Wake of SB4

By Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0.

On May 9th, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced a travel advisory for people traveling to Texas after the passing of SB4, a law that will allow police officers to investigate immigration status during any encounter with law enforcement -- including routine traffic stops. Although SB4 will not go into effect until September 1st, the ACLU warns that its passing may cause some to enforce the law prematurely.

As with a similar law that has been in place in Arizona since 2010, we recognize that this policy puts some AAS members at risk. With the AAS Summer Meeting and the Women in Astronomy Conference just a few weeks away, these members may be reconsidering their travel to Austin or feel anxious about attending. We recognize that these fears are legitimate and offer our support at such an uncertain time.

The following are recommendations for people traveling to Texas in the near future. If you are considering canceling your travel plans to Austin due to the passing of SB4, or if you can suggest resources for those affected, please contact Jorge Moreno (csmachairmoreno at gmail dot com).

For more general information about what to do if you encounter ICE, please see this article.
  • Do not drive without a license
  • Do not ride with someone who does not have a license
  • Favor using taxis or rideshares over renting/driving. A local community development clinic has been working with an Austin taxi cooperative (green cabs), which can be called at 512-333-5555.
  • Do not drink and drive. Avoid drinking excessively.
  • Do not engage in any criminal activity.
  • Austin Police Department does not have a written policy regarding inquiring about immigration status, but in practice they do not cooperate with ICE.
  • Travis County still has its anti-detainer policy in place. 
  • Boycotting Texas is always an option, although this may not be feasible on such short notice

If you believe your rights have been violated because of SB4, please contact the ACLU of Texas at 1-888-507-2970.
ACLU “Know Your Rights” materials relevant to SB4 are available here:

Disclaimer: This is not an official statement by the American Astronomical Society nor the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy and should not be construed as such.

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