The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) announced it is pulling the 15th Annual National Summit of State Legislators from Texas due to “the anti-Latino, anti-rule of law bill enacted by the state known as SB4.” The group was scheduled to hold its annual conclave in Houston in November but in the aftermath of SB4 the organization has decided to move its convention to Chicago instead.
According to an NHCSL press release, it is the first major national Latino organization to boycott the Lone Star State because of its strong opposition to the controversial law. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) previously voted on June 7 to move the association’s 2018 annual conference from Grapevine.
"Texas' SB4 is a 'show me your papers law' on steroids,” said NHCSL President and Pennsylvania State Representative Ángel Cruz. “As Latino state legislators, we cannot in good conscience invest in a great state that nonetheless has chosen to scapegoat immigrants and minorities while making communities there less safe and turning innocent Latinos into targets. Contrary to popular belief, SB4 does not just eliminate state and local sanctuary policies, it criminalizes the speech of public officials who support such common-sense practices and subjects them to removal from office if they even speak out against laws like SB4.
"This should be unacceptable to anyone in 21st Century America; and it certainly is for NHCSL.”
SB4 was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 7, 2017, and goes into effect on September 1st of this year. Among the provisions in the law, SB4 forbids cities, towns, counties and universities from becoming or remaining sanctuary cities or sanctuary colleges for undocumented immigrants.
The law also allows the Attorney General of Texas to request that the Texas State Court remove from office any elected or appointed official even for endorsing a sanctuary policy or enforcing one already in place. In addition, SB4 subjects local law enforcement—and even campus police departments—to fines of up to $25,000 for merely refusing to ask individuals about their immigration status or reporting it.
"Chicago is exactly the type of city that welcomes immigrants, respects the rule of law, and protects communities by working together with all residents, regardless of their immigration status, to keep their neighborhoods safe,” said NHCSL Executive Director Kenneth Romero-Cruz in a July 19 press release.
“We are thrilled to be holding our annual summit in the Windy City and look forward to productive week while we're there,” he said. “Chicago is a model for other cities to emulate when it comes to the critical collaboration that needs to be nurtured between law enforcement and the communities they serve and that is why we chose this forward-thinking city for our annual Summit of Hispanic State Legislators.”