SANTA CRUZ, CA – The Board of Directors of Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) has voted to keep The National Diversity in STEM Conference in San Antonio, Texas in 2018 while standing in strong opposition to Senate Bill 4 (SB4). SB4, the Texas state “anti-sanctuary cities” bill was slated to take effect on September 1, 2017, but was recently temporarily blocked by Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in a 94-page ruling.
If implemented, SB4 would require local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and allows officers to inquire about the immigration status of people they lawfully detain. There has been a rapid, large scale, and unified opposition to the SB4 including lawsuits filed against the bill by El Paso and Maverick Counties, the cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston, La Joya, and San Antonio and major advocacy groups including Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the American Civil Liberties Union. There has also been widespread opposition from educators and law enforcement agencies.
San Antonio’s Chief of Police and the Bexar County Sherriff had swift and vocal opposition to SB4 and the CEO of Visit San Antonio directly reached out to SACNAS to underscore the city’s commitment to fostering a safe, welcoming, and diverse environment.
SACNAS Executive Director Dr. Antonia O. Franco said, “The Board of Directors unanimously decided to stand in solidarity with the SACNAS community in Texas who are directly impacted by SB4 and ensure that we continue our unwavering commitment to provide opportunities for STEM students and professionals as we have done for the past 44 years.”
SACNAS Board President Dr. Lino Gonzalez explained, “SACNAS will utilize its presence in Texas to continue to champion the cause of diversity and inclusion as a critical strategy to help the American workforce reach its full potential and raise the profile of local and national Latinos in STEM.”
Moving forward, Dr. Franco noted, SACNAS will continue to monitor the situation in Texas. “Additionally,” she said, “the Board of Directors will discuss future conference site selection criteria, particularly around states that have discriminatory laws in place.”
The National Diversity in STEM Conference is the annual meeting of SACNAS and the largest multicultural and multidisciplinary STEM diversity event in the country showcasing the achievements and research of nearly 4,000 underrepresented minority students and scientists.
SACNAS is an inclusive organization with a 44-year history of fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanic & Native American scientists, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers and positions of leadership in science.
SACNAS serves approximately 6,000 members, a larger community of 20,000, and with 115 SACNAS student and professional chapters throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.