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Seal of the Senate of the State of Texas
Welcome to the official website for the
Texas Senate
Senator Royce West: District 23
News Release
March 19, 2024
Contact: Kelvin Bass

Today (Tuesday), State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas), issued the following in response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision to allow the State of Texas to enforce the provisions of Senate Bill 4:

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its most recent actions to now allow Texas’ law enforcement agencies to begin enforcement of Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), the state’s “show me your papers law.” Without question, this legislation carries with it the ability to codify racial profiling by giving law enforcement the proverbial green light to target with impunity, anyone who in their opinion, looks illegal.

SB 4 gives law enforcement the power to arrest a person if they suspect that person is an undocumented immigrant. I ask what are the factors that could amount to reasonable suspicion? Could it be the color of a person’s skin, the language they speak, or the communities where they live or are passing through?

During debate on this bill before the Senate during the fourth special session of the legislature last year, there was robust discussion on what would constitute probable cause to allow an arrest under SB 4. The truth is that what constitutes probable cause is up to each and every individual law enforcement officer in the State of Texas at the time they engage in a traffic stop or other police and citizen interaction.

Let me be clear, SB 4 does NOT provide a mechanism for police to determine reasonable suspicion regarding who is and or who is not here legally. In fact, the majority of those voting in favor of this law voted against clarifying how police could determine probable cause or reasonable suspicion regarding enforcement of this now-enacted law!

Questions remain at every judicial level as to whether SB 4 stands in violation of 14th Amendment equal protection provisions. And of even more glaring constitutional concern is that SB 4 is in direct conflict with the federal government’s jurisdiction over immigration enforcement, consistent with the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Arizona v. United States.

Because this law does not prescribe probable cause or reasonable suspicion for arresting or detaining an individual, persons in this state can be subject to disparate and different policies and practices regarding who is legally allowed to be here. Enforcement activities may vary by area, from urban, to rural, to the border region.

No one deserves to be treated differently by officers simply because of the color of their skin. Senate Bill 4 sets the stage for law enforcement to unduly view those who are brown through a lens of suspicion.

Texas needs real solutions to address the problems at our southern border, and Senate Bill 4 creates nothing more than a pathway to confusion that could result in the arrest and detention of innocent Texans.

For more information, please call Kelvin Bass or Vince Leibowitz at 214-467-0123 or 512-463-0123.