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Faith leaders stand against anti-immigrant ‘show me your papers’ law that will increase racial profiling, discriminate against people of color, and reduce community safety


Washington, D.C. – Religious leaders across faith traditions condemn signing into law SB4, the pinnacle of harsh anti-immigrant legislation that passed the Texas legislature last week and was signed by Governor Greg Abbott on Sunday, May 7. SB4 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 lead to further discrimination against people of color, prevent local police departments from setting their own public safety priorities, and make immigrants who are victims or witnesses of crime afraid to seek protection.


“SB4 is a racist law similar to Arizona’s infamous SB1070, a ‘show me your papers’ law that was mostly struck down for being unconstitutional,” said Reverend John L. McCullough, CWS President and CEO. “SB4 goes further by mandating state and local compliance with ICE detainer requests and conscripting local police to enforce immigration laws, all of which terrorizes communities and separates families. As people of faith, we are called to welcome the stranger and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I pray our state lawmakers find the compassion, welcome and mercy in their hearts to see the damage caused by discriminatory policies and reject the anti-immigrant agenda.”


“The National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd deeply regrets that Governor Abbott signed into law SB 4, a harshly anti-immigrant bill,” said Lawrence Couch, Director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. “The law will encourage profiling, racial tension, and, by spreading fear throughout the immigrant community, contribute to the breakdown of civil society.  We urge that this law be rescinded as soon as possible.”


“This bill will not make anyone safer,” said Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ Vice President for Policy and Advocacy. “Instead, it will add to an atmosphere of fear where refugees, immigrants, and U.S. citizens distrust the local law enforcement officers who are supposed to be keeping their communities safe. For refugees and asylees who have already fled dangerous situations, becoming an automatic suspect who can be interrogated at any time is particularly traumatic.”


Sister Patricia McDermott, President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, reflected that, “This legislation is alarming and shameful.  It will sow even greater racism, fear, and suffering; and we worry that it is one more indication that our country is losing its soul and the values on which we were founded.”


People of faith across the country will continue to demonstrate solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters, including by providing sanctuary, and we will overcome these obstacles in our way of building inclusive community.