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Controversial law prompts ACLU warning for Hawaii residents with Texas travel plans

(Image: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) (Image: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hawaii residents who are planning to visit Texas should be prepared for the possibility of racial profiling by local law enforcement officers, the ACLU of Hawaii says.

The agency issued an advisory on Tuesday in response to the passing of a controversial Texas law, allowing police officers to investigate an individual's immigration status during routine traffic stops.

Critics say the measure unfairly targets Mexicans and increases racial tensions in the state; it also allows for the prosecution of law enforcement officers who refuse to assist federal authorities with deportation efforts.

Given that Hawaii is the most diverse state in the U.S., the ACLU says it worries that some island residents will be confused for Mexican immigrants by law enforcement officers in the Lone Star State.

"Many of us fit the racial profile that the police in Texas will use to enforce Trump’s draconian deportation force," said Lorella Praeli, the ACLU's director of immigration policy. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says the provisions of the bill are necessary to continue the state's crackdown on illegal immigration.

"Legal immigration is different from harboring people who have committed dangerous crimes," Abbott said. "“There are deadly consequences to not enforcing the law, and Texas has now become a state where those practices are not tolerated.

"With this bill we are doing away with those that seek to promote lawlessness in Texas," he added.

Though the measure does not go into effect until Sept. 1, 2017, ACLU affiliates in at least 22 other states have issued similar advisories warnings. 

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