On Wednesday Nov. 8th, students from History and Political Science enjoyed a talk from San Antonio attorney Luis Vera, who has fought multiple civil rights cases against states across the nation over a 25 year period. Vera, who has extensive experience trying cases from the U.S. Supreme Courts, spoke at length about the history of discriminatory laws int he United States and the politicization of the judicial process at the local, state, and federal levels.
The main focus of Vera's talk was Senate Bill 4, the so-called "show me your papers" or "sancturary city" law. Vera noted SB4's striking similarities to Arizona's SB 1070 that he also fought against. SB 1070 was stuck down in federal courts because of its potential for discrimination on the part of those enforcing it, the perception being that it would unfairly target Latiinos and Latinas on the basis that it allowed for police to determine the immgration status of detained or arrested persons based on a "reasonable suspicion" that they were in the country illegally. Vera's current case against the state of Texas argues that SB4 was similarly designed, only that it places emphasis on the cities that do not make deliberate efforts to detain these persons. The logic of SB4 is that these cities are providing "sancturary" to potential illegal immigrants.
Vera recalled his late night telephone conversation with Raul Reyes, The mayor of El Cenizo, a samall town located on the border, just to the south of Laredo. El Cenizo, with the help of Vera and his colleagues at the league of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), was the first city to file a lawsuit against the state of Texas after SB4 was signed into law by Governor Abbot on May 7, 2017. The case is now with the Fifth District Court of Appeals.
Students then engaged Mr. Vera in a lively Q&A session with many expressing their concerns at the wider political implications of both SB4, the issue of illegal immigration, and the motivations of political figures who support such legislation.
On October 23, 2017, the Psychology Program, Criminology and Criminal Justice Program, Political Science Program, and the Division of Student Affairs hosted a guest speaker event in which the members of Journey of Hope spoke to students about their personal experiences with violence and the criminal justice system. Speakers shared stories of how the death penalty impacts crime victims’ family members, the family members of people sentenced to death, and exonerees in order to shed light on issues surrounding the death penalty, mental illness, emotional trauma, the unmet needs of crime victims, the secondary human impact of capital punishment, and human resilience in the wake of unspeakable tragedy.
"Free Speech on College Campuses"
September 19,2016 Guest Speakers: Trisha Trigilio, Attorney with the ACLU and Michael Ariens, Constitutional Law Professor, St. Mary's Law School
The Department of Political Science along with the University Library hosted speakers in honor of "Constitution Day". The discussion focused on the importance of free speech and how it relates to higher education. About 75 students attended this very informative and interesting event.