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April 5, 2023

100+ civil rights organizations call out anti-immigrant Texas legislation

AUSTIN, Texas — Today, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), United Chinese Americans, RISE AAPI and over 100 other national and Texas-based civil rights organizations signed a letter to Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick and the members of the Texas State Senate and House opposing Texas SB147. This bill follows a national trend of legislation barring immigrant communities from basic freedoms American citizens are entitled to.  

“This bill is a blatantly racist attack against immigrant communities,” said NIAC President Jamal Abdi. “It targets people who legally live, work and pay taxes in the United States because of their national origin. Gov. Abbott is trying to gain national notoriety by pandering to our worst anti-immigrant instincts and depriving people of their basic rights.” 

“We urge Texas lawmakers to reject these bills and any legislation that would discriminate against individuals and families based on their national origin or ancestry,” said Nabila Mansoor, Executive Director of Rise AAPI. “We encourage them to meet with potentially impacted community members and to speak out against all bills that end up targeting and harming the individuals and communities that make Texas and our country stronger.”

If passed, SB147 and SB711 would prevent people from Iran, China, North Korea and Russia from purchasing property in Texas. Two other bills also target immigrants. HB4736 would prohibit people from these countries from attending public universities in the state. SB552 would prohibit businesses from entering into agreements with individuals from these countries. 

The United States has a long, grim history of violating human rights based on national origin. In the last century, discriminatory laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act restricted immigration from Asian countries. Similarly, laws known as the Alien Land Laws barred Asian people from owning property. What began as limits on civil liberties such as property ownership quickly escalated into internment camps for Japanese American citizens during World War II. More recently, Trump’s 2017 Muslim ban blocked immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States. The Texas bills are of the same ilk, stripping civil liberties from immigrant communities and preventing legal American citizens from living freely. 

Advocates fear the Texas bills may be a bellwether. Civil rights organizations emphasize the urgency to defeat these bills in an effort to prevent further anti-immigrant attacks from becoming law in other states. 

“We must stop these proposals now to protect immigrant communities’ right to own a home, own a business, or attend college,” said Jamal Abdi. “Standing up for these communities is standing up for all Americans.” 

Read the full letter below: 

Copy of Letter Document - SB147
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