SAN ANTONIO, TX – Today, MALDEF filed a legal challenge to Texas House Bill 11’s immigrant harboring provision, which targets workers at immigrant shelters and landlords who rent to undocumented immigrants. HB 11 creates a new felony offense of immigrant harboring under which individuals can be arrested and prosecuted for providing shelter or renting a home to undocumented immigrants.
“Enacted on dubious legal advice, HB 11 accomplishes nothing but to embroil Texas in litigation and to divide the state in the name of political gamesmanship,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. “Moreover, the law targets humanitarian service providers and property owners simply conducting business with other Texans.”
The plaintiffs in the case include two landlords who do not ask tenants to prove their immigration status as a condition of renting and the Executive Director of RAICES, an organization that provides shelter and legal services to undocumented immigrants.
“The U.S. Supreme Court, as well as federal courts in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina have all struck down, as unconstitutional, state-enacted immigrant harboring laws like the one in HB 11,” stated Nina Perales, MALDEF Vice President of Litigation and lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “Texas already has enough laws to protect us from human smuggling without targeting religious and non-profit organizations that care for immigrants,” continued Perales.
The Texas House and Senate passed HB 11 in 2015 despite warnings that the bill’s harboring provisions would be preempted by federal law. When Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 11, Texas followed in the footsteps of other states that enacted immigration laws that violate the U.S. Constitution.
CLICK HERE to view a copy of the complaint.