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Hispanic National Bar Association Pulls Conference Out of Texas

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Hispanic National Bar Association announced today that it is pulling its 2020 Corporate Counsel Conference from El Paso, Texas in response to the Texas state government’s passage of Senate Bill 4 (“SB4”). Dubbed an “anti-sanctuary” law, SB4 forces local law enforcement to act as de facto immigration enforcement officers and gives them the power to detain and question an individual about their citizenship status solely based on whether the officer thinks that the person “looks” undocumented.

In the view of the HNBA, this legislation “potentially subjects all who live in–or pass through–Texas to racial profiling, discrimination, and unlawful due process violations simply because of their apparent Latino or immigrant heritage, regardless of actual citizenship status,” stated HNBA National President Pedro J. Torres-Díaz. “The HNBA did not arrive at this decision lightly. We have a significant membership base in Texas, many of whom expressed concerns about the constitutionality of SB4 and the widespread, detrimental impact this legislation will have on Latino communities in Texas. We stand in solidarity with the cities, communities, and organizations that have voiced their opposition to this draconian law, including the City of El Paso, and stand ready to further assist them in any way to ensure that SB4 is repealed. Ultimately, however, we believe that the greatest impact that the HNBA can have, is to demonstrate our opposition to this law with our actions, not simply our words.”

“The HNBA and its nearly 1000 conference attendees infuse more than an estimated $1,000,000 into the local and state economies of the cities where it hosts its conferences. We certainly will not invest our dollars into a state that has demonstrated an unwillingness to provide all people with equal protection and due process under its laws, nor would we subject our members, all of whom could face detention and questioning under SB4, to such discriminatory and degrading treatment by hosting a conference in a State with such openly hostile policies,” said Torres-Díaz.

“While Texas has attempted to brand SB4 as ‘public-safety legislation,’ merely aimed at assisting the federal government in the apprehension of undocumented immigrants, SB4’s broad language casts a wide net that will assuredly impact citizens and non-citizens alike,” explained Torres-Díaz. “As a national association of lawyers, we are committed to the ideals of equal protection, due process, tolerance and inclusiveness. We cannot, in good conscience, tacitly approve–with our words, resources or actions–such fervently anti-immigrant and anti-Latino legislation. As long as SB4 is state law, we will not host any of our conferences in the Lone Star State.”

Among the provisions in Texas SB4, the law:

  • Empowers police officers (including campus police) to question the immigration status of any person lawfully detained pursuant to the investigation of any criminal offense (including routine traffic stops or suspicion of entering the country without inspection).

  • Imposes harsh civil penalties of up to $25,000.00, per day, on law enforcement who fail to comply with the law, and harsher criminal penalties on elected or appointed officials who fail to comply with the law, including Class A misdemeanor charges (punishable by sentence of up to 1 year in prison) and removal from office.

  • Encourages individuals to report individuals, departments or agencies suspected of violating SB4 to the state’s Attorney General’s Office.

Posted by Latino Lubbock Magazine

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