Congressman Pete Olson holds Town Hall meeting regarding new immigration bill
By Karen Daniels
It goes without saying that the immigration crisis at the Texas border, along with New Mexico, Arizona, and California, is a tragedy. Unaccompanied, immigrant children, after being sent on a treacherous and lengthy journey from Central America, are arriving in the United States by the thousands. Congressman Pete Olson, with the support of the Mayors from Meadows Place, Simonton, Missouri City, Rosenberg, Alvin, Fulshear and Stafford, presented Bill HR5138 at the town hall meeting held at Meadows Place City Hall on July 18th.
This bill, in the event that the city you live in is contacted by the federal government to house immigrant children, will allow cities 90 days to assess the economic impact this will have, such as: housing, education, transportation, roadways, court systems, and medical and emergency services. Having 90 days will allow cities time to form a plan. Congressman Olson said, “These kids deserve to be taken care of, but not to the detriment of our cities.”
At this time, none of the above Mayors have been approached by the federal government to house immigrant children. When asked if Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen would agree to house these children, he said that Missouri City could not. Mayor Owen is “getting emails and phone calls every day from citizens who are upset that while they are struggling to pay their mortgages, their tax money will be going to someone else.” When asked the same question, Mayor Charles Jessup of Meadows Place stated that their city “can not handle this extra burden” and “supports this bill.” Mayor Vincent Morales Jr. of Rosenberg said they “have a lot of homeless right now” and although he is not opposed to the idea, he “cannot guarantee” that Rosenberg would be able to house these children. When asked about the resolution that League City recently passed banning undocumented children, Mayor Owen said, “I would rather see this bill pass. This is the right way to approach it.”
Congressman Olson spoke about the City of Stafford’s situation after Hurricane Katrina occurred and an influx of 107 children entered Stafford MSD. SMSD was required to educate and provide additional buses, teachers, and classrooms. And what makes this current crisis even more unique will be educating with a language barrier.
Anna Lopez-Ferrell, a citizen and Fort Bend County court coordinator, spoke of the bogged down court systems that will be created as a result, said, “We have our own problems, but at the same time, what can we do to help?” Some alternative suggestions mentioned were: churches, unused military bases, and other available federal land for relocation of these children. Health & Human Services will have the final voice and can ultimately override a city’s refusal. “We are a country of compassion,” Congressman Olson said in closing. “This is about taxpayer burden.”
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