Target: Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw
Goal: Denounce the Texas Department of Public Safety director for setting up random police checkpoints that have incited fear among immigrants and unfairly targeted low-income neighborhoods
For the past couple of weeks, there have been a slew of random police checkpoints across the Rio Grande Valley. The Texas Department of Public Safety announced that the checkpoints were set up as part of a short-term effort to crack down on unsafe driving as well as other forms of criminal activity. The vague language used by the Department of Public Safety has caused immigrant advocates to launch campaigns against the checkpoints because they believe that the checkpoints are being used to target and ultimately deport undocumented immigrants. This systematic effort to deport immigrants who seek a better life in the United States must be condemned.
Approximately 1.7 million undocumented immigrants reside in Texas. The majority of them do not have drivers licenses because a law passed in 2011 blocked the Department of Public Safety from granting driver’s licenses to Texas denizens who cannot prove that they are U.S. citizens. This measure effectively blocked all undocumented immigrants from legally driving in Texas. At the beginning of 2013, Texas lawmakers shot down a measure that would have voided the citizenship provision for issuing driver’s licenses. Thus, the majority of undocumented immigrants living in Texas continue to drive without car insurance and driver’s licenses.
Immigrants in particular fear police checkpoints because Border Patrol officers possess the legal right to search their cars and ask about their documentation status if the checkpoints are within one hundred miles of the border. The checkpoints are concentrated in low-income areas. Many schools have a reported that undocumented parents are calling schools because they fear that if they pick up their children they could be searched and deported. Some schools have reported that attendance has dropped by as much as 35%. Many undocumented immigrants have contacted immigrant advocacy groups such as La Union Del Pueblo Entero and reported that there is a great presence of Border Patrol agents at the checkpoints looking to turn people over to Immigrant and Customs Enforcement. The Department of Public Safety continues to deny that the checkpoints are being used to target undocumented immigrants. However, the Department’s director Steve McCraw has in the past been unapologetic about targeting undocumented immigrants, going so far as ordering helicopters to shoot and kill two immigrants crossing the border.
The legality of the checkpoints remains questionable. Often, when law enforcement seeks to crackdown on undocumented immigration and other forms of crime, they violate civil liberties. Many residents have reported that the checkpoints unfairly target the impoverished communities. Furthermore, the checkpoints are being used to enforce federal immigration law but are operating under the veil of traffic safety. In other locations, the U.S. Court of Appeals have concluded that checkpoints such as these are unconstitutional. Please sign this petition to condemn these random checkpoints that unfairly target low-income communities and incite fear in undocumented immigrants who are being unfairly targeted.
Dear Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw,
We condemn your decision to implement several checkpoints across the Rio Grande Valley that unfairly target immigrants and low-income neighborhoods. Although you claim that the checkpoints are set up to crack down on unsafe driving and other criminal activity, your past heavy-handed approach to dealing with undocumented immigrants makes it clear that these checkpoints are meant to target and dispose of them. Reports of Border Patrol agents at the checkpoints verify the veracity of these suspicions.
The majority of the checkpoints are located in low-income neighborhoods. Many schools have reported that undocumented parents have feared picking up their children from school because they would be stopped during the commute. Often, when agencies try to crack down on criminal activity, civil liberties are violated, and this is clearly happening in this case. Furthermore, federal U.S. courts have rendered checkpoints such as these unconstitutional. These checkpoints in Texas aim to enforce federal immigration law and do very little to mitigate reckless driving and real criminal activity.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: pamhule via Flickr