During recent special legislative sessions, Texas passed two of the most extreme immigration laws ever introduced by any state. Both under the name Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), these hateful new laws give local and state Peace Officers the power of immigration officials and aim to put an end to “Sanctuary Cities”.

Texas’ two new laws under the name “SB 4” are outlined below:

Senate Bill 4:

Punishing Good Samaritans

AKA “Smuggling/Stash House” 

(Effective date 2/6/24)

This law increases the penalty from two years to 10 years for “smuggling” immigrants. The law affects any good samaritan – including a U.S. citizen – who provides aid or support of any kind to undocumented or unauthorized immigrants.

What Texans Need To Know

  • Ten-year mandatory prison sentence for anyone who is convicted of “smuggling” – even a good samaritan who drives an immigrant to the doctor could end up in jail!
  • Five-year minimum sentence for anyone convicted of harboring undocumented immigrants in a “stash house”
  • 15-year mandatory sentence if convicted in an area where a disaster is declared
  • Penalty reduced for someone who cooperates with law enforcement or provides aid only to certain family members

Senate Bill 4, HB 4:

Racial Profiling

AKA “Texas’ Deportation Scheme” 

(Temporarily blocked by federal courts)

This law gives untrained police officers the power to detain people suspected of being non-U.S. citizens, basically turning local police into immigration officials. With the new unconstitutional law in place, Black and Brown communities statewide – regardless of citizenship status – should expect to experience a whole new level of racial profiling.

What Texans Need To Know

The SB 4 Racial Profiling law creates two entirely new crimes:

1) Misdemeanor Charge for Illegal Entry from a Foreign Nation

  • Punishable by up to 6 months in jail
  • Peace officers can arrest or detain someone – including U.S. citizens –  for illegal entry if they suspect them of being a non-citizen who entered Texas from a foreign nation at any location other than a port of entry like an international bridge or port
  • Magistrate Judges who are inexperienced in immigration issues are now authorized to order people to leave the United States
  • Defense to prosecution (only if granted prior to arrest) includes: Lawful presence, Asylum, DACA

2) Felony Charge for Illegal Reentry by Certain Individuals

  • Punishment of up to 10-20 years in prison
  • Peace officers can arrest or detain someone for illegal reentry if they suspect them of being a undocumented or unauthorized and they are found at any time in Texas after being previously denied admission, deported, or removed
  • Any person that is convicted will be prosecuted and removed from the United States under Texas law, even if they have been granted some sort of lawful status

Who can enforce these new immigration laws?

With SB 4 laws in place, any Peace Officer in Texas now has the authority to engage in immigration. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Local and state police officers
  • Sheriffs
  • Parks and Wildlife Commission law enforcement officers
  • Municipal park and recreational patrolment and security officers
  • Fire Marshals
  • Insurance Commissioner Investigators