As a fourth generation Texan, I never imagined a day like today--when my home state would cruelly legislate the rounding up of my neighbors, friends and family members like cattle. Yet, that day has arrived. On 9 May 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a 'travel alert' informing anyone planning to travel to Texas in the near future to anticipate the possible violation of their constitutional rights when stopped by law enforcement.
The alert comes amid the passing of a Texas law known as SB4. The law gives a green light to police officers in the state to investigate a person’s immigration status during a routine traffic stop, leading to widespread racial profiling, baseless scrutiny, and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens alike presumed to be “foreign” based on how they look or sound. The travel alert applies to all travelers to Texas, including U.S. travelers from other states and U.S. citizens. In addition, this alert applies to all encounters with federal, state, county law enforcement including local police and sheriffs."
For the past two years, ACPA has been at the frontline of the fight against these draconian laws in Texas, most recently SB6.
Now we must cross over that line into the belly of the beast. There are times when non-violent resistance of bigotry involves boycotting. There are times when it means protesting in the streets. This time it means we enter the belly of the beast because the healing of this deep wound can only come from inside. We have to be in Texas en masse and bring our voices into the center of the fear and hate.
ACPA is going to Houston in July 2017 for our annual leadership meeting and in March 2018 for Convention. Two years ago, our Governing Board recognized that Texas would be the bell weather state on passage of the most discriminating legislation since pre-Civil Rights Act of 1964. We could have moved elsewhere, but we made the decision to go to Texas, work at the grassroots level, provide testimony to the legislature, provide education by sending senators copies of Z. Nicolazzo's "Trans* in College."
Some of our members will not be able to travel with us on this next particular journey. It won't feel or be safe for them. Some of our members will choose to not invest their money in Texas. Some of our members will be prohibited from traveling to Texas as representatives of their state institutions.
We can't guarantee safety for those of us who gather in Houston as allies and advocates although we have developed a very strong network of support with the Houston Mayor's office, CVB, Houston First, Equality Texas, Trans Equality Texas and ACLU We are confident that they can guide us on logistics and reasonable risk.
We are going because it is no longer time to sit out. It is time to sit in.
Together, we will think about the next way we can go together inside the diseased gut of Texas leadership to bring healing and change. Everyday our Texas based colleagues share the next wave of fear and stigma washing over their campuses. They need our support and our presence with them.
In line with ACPA’s values, mission, and vision, we protest the passage of SB4 and any like-oppressive legislation. As such, we call on our members to help pressure state legislators to repeal this legislation.
When we wrote to you about this decision to go to Houston, our then Director of Equity and Inclusion Dian Squire said, "This decision is a moral decision, not a financial one. It is at the urging recommendation of local community organizations and ACPA members in Texas that ACPA remains in Houston for #ACPA18 and utilize its many platforms, including its largest, Convention, to push for equity and justice in the state. "
Moral decisions are more complicated than economic ones. We will not all agree on this decision. We understand that reality. We hope, however, that you will contribute your voice and encouragement to colleagues who choose to travel with us this time.
Our Convention Steering Team is planning how Convention can be used as a leverage point to create sustainable change in Texas and provide an atmosphere where our everyone can be safe and learn.
Barring unforeseeable circumstances ACPA will continue to show up and work for justice in Texas.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Fill up the in-boxes, voice mails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin accounts of Texas legislators. I hope you will include information about immigration from the ACLU site in your communications with your neighbors and legislative representatives.
Educate yourself and your colleagues, neighbors, and friends about the immigrant experience.
Engage with myself, the ACPA leadership, and central staff office about your questions, comments, and concerns regarding #ACPA18 in Houston, or if you have suggestions for additional action or ways we can support you.
WHAT ACPA IS DOING
As previously stated, we have met with local groups in Texas over the past couple years to “stay ahead” of these types of actions.
We will continue to support local organizations on the ground in Texas who are fighting this battle every day.
Depending on legislator reaction to these efforts and the efforts of others, we have considered additional actions that will support local colleges and universities and continue to bring to light the deleterious effects of this bill.