"It is absolutely unconscionable for state and local governments to impose political litmus tests on disaster relief funds for people devastated by Hurricane Harvey", Brian Hauss, an ACLU staff attorney based in NY, told The Intercept.
Andre Segura, legal director for ACLU of Texas, blasted the grant aid condition as a violation of free speech and said the government can not hinge relief funds on a promise to "refrain from protected" political speech. House Bill 89, which was signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 2 and went into effect on September 1, states: "A governmental entity may not enter into a contract with a company for goods or services unless the contract contains a written verification from the company that it: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract".
Critics, including the ACLU, are condemning not only the city's requirement but also Texas's anti-protest law-and similiar measures enacted across the US and under consideration in Congress-as violations of constitutional free speech rights.
"It is flatly unconstitutional, and morally outrageous, for the government to impose political litmus tests on access to disaster relief funds", ACLU representative Brian Hauss said in a statement.
The city attorney of Dickinson said they were just following the law, according to KTRK.
In Kansas, ACLU is taking the state to court over a contract a teacher had to sign to be eligible for a state-funded program to help other teachers.
The primary goal of the law is to "scare people away" from participating in "protected First Amendment activity", Brian Hauss, an ACLU staff attorney said.
"Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies", Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said when he signed the bill into law in May.
As the organization pointed out, the Supreme Court in 1982 ruled the government can not put a stop to any "non-violent, politically motivated boycott created to force governmental and economic change".
So, why is the city of Dickinson asking relief grant applicants to certify that they are not now boycotting Israel and will not boycott the country while the agreement is in effect?
"The city in no way advocates on behalf of the underlying political issue, but we're doing everything in our power to follow state law", he said. She stressed the state was only following State law.
Dickinson was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey two months ago.
The application contains a provision that requires applicants to agree to verification that they will not Boycott Israel, a country "guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people", according to a now redacted report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
No other clauses about political affiliations or beliefs are included in the form.