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May 08, 2017

200 Texas Religious Leaders Condemn Anti-Immigrant Legislation

Today, 200 Texas religious leaders sent a letter to Governor Abbott, condemning signing into law SB4, notably the harshest anti-immigrant bill to be passed by a state legislature. This legislation will force state, local, and campus police to serve as immigration enforcement officers and mandate that they detain and hold immigrants in custody for Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). This bill will take away local police departments’ right to set their own public safety priorities and commitments to protect immigrants who are victims or witnesses of crime. 

The legislation goes far beyond attacking sanctuary city ordinances and is similar to Arizona’s infamous “show me your papers” law, SB1070, that institutionalizes racial profiling. SB4 will encourage discrimination against people of color, separate families, and send a message that immigrants are unwelcome and that children, families, and entire communities should be afraid. Texas now becomes the first state to mandate compliance with ICE detainer requests and conscript local police to enforce immigration laws. This opens local police departments to civil suits, since honoring detainer requests without probable cause has been found unconstitutional.[1]

“The anti-immigrant agenda is born out of fear and promoted out of a sense of privilege, jeopardizing justice for everyone,” said The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Texas. “We have seen the damage caused by discriminatory, unconstitutional ‘show me your papers’ laws to our economy and our communities. We will continue to build welcoming communities across Texas. Texans are a hospitable, kind, and welcoming people and we lament this law’s attempt to spread fear among us. As our sacred texts remind us: ‘When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself.’ Leviticus 19:33-34).”

“We are praying that you may find compassion in your discernment process and stop any legislation that hurts immigrants and reduce community safety,” reads the letter. “We urge you to think about the moral imperative to love our neighbor, welcome the immigrant, and care for the most vulnerable among us.”

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty. Learn more about our work and join our global homebase for refugee solidarity at

[1] Several recent court cases [Mendoza v. Osterberg, 2014 WL 3784141 (District of Nebraska, 2014); Uroza v. Salt Lake County, 2013 WL 653968 (District of Utah, 2013); and Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County, 2014 WL 1414305 (District of Oregon, 2014)] have found that it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment to hold individuals on ICE detainers after they had met the court’s bond or bail requirements. Holding individuals on ICE detainer requests past the date they would otherwise be released has also been found to be unconstitutional [Morales v. Chadbourne, 996 F. Supp. 2d 19 (District of Rhode Island, 2014), affirmed on appeal, --- F.3d ----, 2015 WL 4385945 (1st Circuit, July 17, 2015).].