For several days last week, rumors were rampant that a national effort to round-up and deport immigrants without legal papers would include Houston and Harris County persons. The rumors emanated from Washington, D.C. and said that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement would carry out unannounced raids, detention, and deportation without a court’s due process.
Local leaders reacted with negative comments, vowing that they would not cooperate with such an undertaking, citing inhumane treatment of individuals, and questionable legal authority. Here are the statements by the County Judge and the Houston Mayor:
Judge Lina Hidalgo Statement:
The Trump administration announced that potential raids on undocumented families across the nation, including in Harris County, have been delayed. The Harris County Judge’s Office had been working with community and government leaders to seek answers so we were prepared to do right by our community, and did not ever receive notice from any governmental agency regarding the reported enforcement operation planned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Nonetheless, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo expressed disappointment at the reported threats of raids, saying, “Creating a climate of fear puts lives at risk. Even the threat of raids are a shameful attempt to push some of our most vulnerable residents further into the shadows. Families belong together, and immigrants make our communities stronger. My office will not assist in any rumored raids and will continue to advocate for reforms at all levels of government.”
Individuals with questions or in need of legal advice are advised to call the Immigrant Rights Hotline: 1-833-HOU-IMMI (468-4664). Should a loved one be detained by ICE, leave a message with a name, phone number and point of contact. Messages will be returned.
“The city of Houston has not been directly notified by ICE of any plans to conduct mass raids targeting undocumented families. The unconfirmed reports have created a great deal of anxiety for some and it proves once again this country needs comprehensive immigration reform.
“People deserve certainty in their lives, especially those who have been living in our community and making positive contributions.We are a country that places a high premium on families and we need to be cautious about separating parents from children or uprooting entire families.
“Houston depends on the ingenuity, the sweat and the rich cultural contributions of its immigrants. One of four Houstonians is foreign born and we are the most diverse big city in the U.S. We welcome newcomers of all kinds when they come to our city to work hard and make a home.
“It makes sense, then, that many people in our city are concerned about reports of plans for mass raids against undocumented immigrants across the country. In the larger picture this is another vivid reminder that our national leaders must work together across party lines to fix a broken and dysfunctional immigration system.
“My job starts with the never-ending effort to provide a safe, secure and prosperous environment for every resident of Houston in their places of work, their places of worship, their school, their homes and elsewhere. The city does not try to do ICE’s job, nor does it try to impede ICE. And we will continue to be a city that builds relationships, not walls.”