ACLU Warns That Travel to Texas "May Result in Violation of Constitutional Rights"

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a "travel warning" for anyone planning on coming to Texas in the near future, all thanks to a new law that critics say will lead to racial profiling by police.

If the courts don't block it first, the law, which is set to go into effect September 1, would allow any law enforcement officer in the state to ask about immigration status in any routine police encounter. The law will force local agencies like the San Antonio Police Department to rescind internal policies prohibiting officers from asking about a person's immigration status. Big-city police officials across the state, like SAPD Chief William McManus, say the bill is a disaster, will push immigrants into the shadows, discourage people from reporting crimes and make law enforcement in diverse communities much more difficult.

"There's nothing positive that this bill does in the community or in law enforcement," McManus said at a Monday press conference after Gov. Greg Abbott signed his crackdown on "sanctuary cities" into law this weekend. "Austin didn't seem to want to listen to its law enforcement leaders across the state. And that, to me, is troubling."

The ACLU is warning people that the law could lead to "widespread racial profiling, baseless scrutiny, and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens alike presumed to be 'foreign' based on how they look or sound." The law also threatens hefty fines and even criminal charges against police chiefs and sheriffs who refuse to comply with warrant-less requests from federal immigration officials to jail people suspected of being in the country illegally, even if they haven't been charged with a local crime. The law even applies to university and college police departments.

"The ACLU’s goal is to protect all Texans and all people traveling through Texas — regardless of their immigration status — from illegal harassment by law enforcement," Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy, said in a prepared statement. "Texas is a state with deep Mexican roots and home to immigrants from all walks of life. Many of us fit the racial profile that the police in Texas will use to enforce Trump’s draconian deportation force."

Read more about what Texas' crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities" means in the Trump Era.