DALLAS, Texas–Houston Independent School District (ISD) may soon join Dallas ISD in supplying vacant public schools as potential sites to house Central American and Mexican illegal immigrant minors that crossed the border into Texas. The Houston Chronicle reported that federal officials toured Terrell Middle School in Northeast Houston.
The district closed the Trinity Gardens neighborhood middle school in 2001. It has been used as a storage facility since then. Houston ISD press secretary Sheleah Reed described the middle school visit as a preliminary step should the federal officials decide theywant a local shelter for the recent influx of unaccompanied alien children, according to the article.
Emotions are running high in the community over this pending decision. Longtime resident Bernadette Lancelin told KHOU News that she raised three children and six grandchildren in the surrounding neighborhood and expressed her frustration that the school would be reopened for non-citizens and not for “our (local) kids.”
Officials from FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the General Services Administration completed the campus walk-through with Texas Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to determine if the building was structurally sound for use as a shelter. Lee attempted to calm Lancelin, who was there, privately. The scene was captured by KPRC Local 2 news cameras.
Lancelin, who was gravely concerned about her own backyard, as she called it, spoke up during Lee’s newsconference. She asked the Congresswoman about the migrant minors: “What’s going to keep them from escaping here and just moving around? Around Houston, around Trinity Gardens? What’s going to keep them behind these gates? Security, really? They can’t even control the border.”
Lee, a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, recently introduced HR 4990 “The Justice For Children Now Act of 2014” that would add 70 immigration judges immediately to the Executive Office of Immigration Review to hear cases. It’s legislation Lee called “an important bill” to curb the flow of unaccompanied children into the United States. It’s on her website. There she wrote of her support for the federal response to the border crisis and for comprehensive immigration reform.
Lee had no information on how many children might be housed at Terrell Middle School or for how long, also according to KPRC. None of the surrounding school districts–Alief, Katy, Cypress-Fairbanks, or Fort Bend–were contacted by the federal government “to help with the crisis,” based on further Local 2 investigation.
However, Judge Emmett told KPRC that the county wasn’t contacted about the federal government using the idle Houston school as temporary housing either. He added that this was not unusual but felt they needed a solution.
For the moment, there’s an uneasy calm in the neighborhood. Houston ISD’s Reed told Breitbart Texas that it’s a waiting game. “We have not heard anything differently since the other day. They said they will call us when they decide.”
In response to federal agencies potentially eyeing Texas real estate, the League City Council voted 6-2 on July 8 to ban this kind of undocumented minor warehousing in their city limits, according to the Houston Chronicle. City Council member Heidi Thiess drafted the ordinance that declines to accept federal requests to operate detention or processing centers in their city, citing health and safety concerns, overburdening schools and infrastructure plus emergency services among their reasons.
More than 25 residents spoke during the public comment portion of the city council meeting prior to the resolution passing 6-2. Before the vote, Theiss announced that a similar measure based on the League City proposal was passed by Galveston County commissioners on July 8, according to the Houston Chronicle.
League City has not been approached by the federal government to shelter the minors either but felt a need to send a pre-emptive message. CW39 News Fix didn’t take the ban too seriously, minimizing its impact by saying the ordinance “is probably not going to trump federal law.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.