The Texas AFL-CIO, the state’s federation of labor unions, launched a website urging union members and other workers to take a stand against SB 4, a repressive law that threatens basic rights that people living in the US take for granted.
The state legislature passed SB 4 in May, and Gov. Gregg Abbott immediately signed it into law. It becomes effective on September 1.
SB 4 authorizes local police to demand proof of citizenship or residency status from people they detain for any reason including traffic stops or domestic violence calls.
“We must stand together as working people and union members to oppose the ‘show me your papers law’–SB 4. SB 4 is wrong–morally and economically. So we’re choosing to stay united. We have a different vision of Texas and we’re going to fight for all working people,” proclaims the federation’s website.
SB 4 takes aim at cities that have come to be called sanctuary cities. These cities have chosen to respect their immigrant residents instead of cooperating with the Trump administration to harass and intimidate them.
Under the new law, local officials could be fined or jailed if the state attorney general believes that they are not fully cooperating with efforts by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to deport people who the agency believes are in the US without permission.
Sanctuary cities in Texas, which include most of the states largest cities, are taking legal action to stop enforcement of SB 4.
The Austin City Council recently voted to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) on behalf of the city of San Antonio to stop the implementation of SB 4.
The Dallas City Council also voted to join the suit and the Houston City Council will soon be asked by Mayor Sylvester Turner to join the suit.
Cities that have joined the suit have questions about the constitutionality of the law.
They are also concerned about its impact on public safety.
Local law enforcement officials are worried that if immigrants fear that contact with the police might result in their deportation or the deportation of a loved one, they will be less likely to cooperate with the police to prevent and stop crime.
For the Texas AFL-CIO, SB 4 is a threat to all workers not just immigrant workers.
In a video appearing on the state labor federation’s website, a number of union members explain the impact that SB 4 will have on the working class in Texas.
First, SB 4 will subject immigrants and other workers who look like they might be immigrants to racial profiling.
It also will drive immigrant workers into the shadows as they try to avoid any confrontation that might lead to deportation proceedings.
For example, if an immigrant worker isn’t being paid overtime that she is due, she may decide to not confront her boss about it out of fear that her boss try to have her deported.
Too often attacks on immigrants “are used as cover to suppress the rights of working people who speak up for safe, just, and dignified working conditions,” states the website.
That could be dangerous for all workers.
If immigrant workers are afraid to stand up for their rights on the job, some employers will take advantage and cut their pay, benefits, and working conditions.
Once employers see that they can cut pay, benefits, and working conditions of one group of workers, they will use this leverage to do the same to other workers whether they are immigrants or not.
To stop these potential attacks on all workers, the Texas AFL-CIO is urging workers to stand in solidarity with those who are directly under attack by SB 4 by signing the “Pledge to Stand United.”
It also provides a toolkit that labor and community organizers and others interested in resisting SB 4 can use to fight for justice for immigrant workers.
The toolkit helps people understand immigration laws and recognize the abuses used to intimidate and harass immigrant workers.
“By providing these resources in a single toolkit, we hope labor organizers and advocates may be better prepared to tackle the many challenges that arise in their efforts to help immigrant workers assert their labor rights and gain a voice on the job,” states the federations on its website.