Law Firm News and Updates

What is SB4? Texas "Show Your Papers Law"

Photo Credit: KHOU

Photo Credit: KHOU

Texas Sanctuary Cities Bill

On  May 7, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 or SB 4 into law. It is scheduled to go into effect on September 1, 2017. SB 4 would allow law enforcement agencies to inquire about the immigration status of any individual who is lawfully detained. 

Opponents to SB 4 assert the law will undoubtedly lead to discrimination against persons of color and state and local law enforcement are not equipped to enforce Federal immigration law.

What is the Problem with Senate Bill 4?

Immigration advocates have taken issue with Section 364.0003 which states no local entity shall adopt, enforce, or endorse a policy that prohibits or discourages the enforcement of immigration laws.

The law strictly prohibits local government policies that would discourage or prohibit employees or anyone under local government control (including law enforcement, DA’s office, corrections officers, etc.) from doing the following:

  • Inquiring about the immigration status of a person in lawful detention or under arrest; and
  • Send or request information from USCIS or ICE.

Any person, including the federal government, may file a complaint if he or she believes the local governmental entity has adopted, enforced, or endorsed a policy that prohibits or discourages the enforcement of immigration laws.

Also, State funds shall be denied to a local governmental entity that violates the law by either policy or consistent actions.

"Show Your Papers" Law and the Financial Burden on Texas Cities

Anyone who does not comply with the new law could face the following consequences:

  • A civil penalty for entities in violation of the law of up to $25,000 for each day of the violation.
  • A class A misdemeanor for a sheriff, chief of police, or constable who fails to comply with federal immigration detainer requests.
  • Removal from office for any elected or appointed official who does not comply with the law.

Houston Joins the Lawsuit Challenging SB4

On May 22, 2017, the City of El Cenizo, on behalf of local governments and law enforcement officials filed a federal lawsuit challenging SB4. On June 21, 2017, the city of Houston voted to join the lawsuit.

In a 10-6 vote, Houston joins San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and other local governments in a lawsuit against Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Texas Attorney Against Senate Bill 4

If you have any questions regarding Senate Bill 4 and the possible effects contact the Holland Law Firm, PLLC at (832) 328-7877 or submit an online form. The Holland Law Firm, PLLC is a full-service immigration law firm that focuses on family-based immigration, deportation defense, and employment-based immigration.


Texas Tribune: Houston Joining Other Texas Cities in Lawsuit Over Senate Bill 4, June 21, 2017 Houston City Council Votes to Join Lawsuit Against SB 4, June 21, 2017