On the heels of the news that the United States Border Patrol would continue to keep their highway checkpoints operational in Texas, despite the fact that many immigrants would use those routes to escape the devastating effects of the hurricane, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, announced that he would personally represent any immigrant who faces deportation due to evacuating from the storm.
“I and others will be the first ones to stand up with you,” said Turner. “If you need help and someone comes and they require help, and then for some reason, then somebody tries to deport them, I will represent them myself, okay?”
“If you are in a stressful situation, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you’re religion is, I don’t care what your language is, you come and take advantage of every service that we have. If you’re in a stressful situation and you need help, you call us for help. We want you to call. There is absolutely no reason why anyone should not call, okay?”
Turner’s statement comes in response to the Border Patrol’s own statement, per the Texas Tribune:
“Border Patrol checkpoints will not be closed unless there is a danger to the safety of the traveling public and our agents. Border Patrol resources, including personnel and transportation, will be deployed on an as needed basis to augment the efforts and capabilities of local-response authorities.”
Immediately upon the release of this statement, the American Civil Liberties Union’s director of immigration policy and campaigns, Lorella Praeli, struck back, criticizing their decision.
“As people seek refuge from hurricane Harvey, they are likely to have to go north or west of Texas and would have to go through a checkpoint. By keeping checkpoints open, the Border Patrol is putting undocumented people and mixed-status families at risk out of fear of deportations. This is a disgusting move from the Border Patrol that breaks with past practices. The Border Patrol should never keep checkpoints open during any natural disasters in the United States. Everyone, no matter the color of their skin or background, is worth saving.”
While the Trump administration continues to exploit the worst natural disaster in Texas’ history to promote their vile and inhumane agenda, the people of Houston can find solace in the fact that their mayor, Sylvester Turner, knows what true leadership looks like, and is willing to put his words into action.