Texas’ “Show Me Your Papers” Law (SB4) Brings More Fear and Racism to Our Communities

It’s not just Donald Trump that’s pursuing an anti-immigrant agenda. Some states, like Texas, are also pursuing dangerous, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant policies. One of the most extreme of these state policies is Texas’ “show me your papers” law that partially took effect September 1, 2017. If it had not been partially enjoined by a judge just days before its implementation, SB4 would have:

  • Required that local jails comply with the otherwise voluntary Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer program.
  • Allowed citizens to initiate investigations of alleged sanctuary cities and counties simply because the locality ‘endorses’ a policy of non-cooperation with ICE.
  • Made it impossible for police chiefs and sheriffs to prevent individual officers from asking anyone the officer lawfully detains (even a traffic stop) or arrests about their immigration status. These provisions apply to colleges and universities as well, meaning campus police would have been perceived as working with ICE.
  • Barred local entities (cities, counties, special districts, campus police) from prohibiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The bill would have prohibited localities from “endorsing” any policy that limits the enforcement of immigration laws.
  • Instituted a civil process by which a citizen can file a complaint against a local entity for violation of the previous sections. Civil penalties are $1,000-1,500 a day for the first violation and $25,000-25,500 for each subsequent violation. It also would have created a civil process for removal from office for any official that a court finds violates this new law.

If implemented, SB4 would decimate the ability of local law enforcement agencies to serve immigrants. Fear of local officers’ ties to Trump’s deportation force would drive victims of crime and witnesses into the shadows, leave domestic violence victims fearful of contacting the police, and make Texas communities everywhere less safe.

If you live in Texas, demand that your state Representatives and Senators end SB4 immediately.


Created in partnership with National Immigration Law Center and United We Dream. See more at