League City votes to ban housing of undocumented children

Ordinance passes by 6-2 vote regardless of protests, legal arguments against measure

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter, Andy Cerota - Anchor/Reporter

LEAGUE CITY, Texas - From League City to Galveston, local and county government leaders are standing their ground and sending the federal government a message as tensions mount over the growing humanitarian crisis at the border.

League City council members passed an ordinance that would ban the processing and detention of immigrants caught crossing our border illegally.

While there were protests and legal arguments against the measure, the ordinance passed by a 6-2 vote Tuesday.

"We can't even take care of ourselves. We have veterans that are homeless," said one League City resident during a public comment session prior to the vote.

"This proposal violates public responsibility," said another resident.

City council member Heidi Thiess led the charge to pass this ordinance. Thiess said she believes the federal government is "going behind the back" of communities to find shelters for thousands of Central American immigrants caught illegally crossing the border.

"They're not taking to the people about, you don't get to have a hearing, you don't get to have a say," said Thiess.

Council member Dennis O'Keefe disagreed.

"The directives, in my opinion, contained within the ordinance are illegal, they are unenforceable, no consequences for non-compliance and embarrassing to League City's reputation," said O'Keefe.

The federal government has been seeking facilities to house thousands of unaccompanied Central American children caught crossing the border illegally. U.S. law mandates children be housed separately from adults.

Detention facilities along the border and at military installations are overcrowded.

On Tuesday afternoon, Galveston County Commissioners passed a resolution, by a four to one vote, calling on federal lawmakers to enforce U.S. immigration laws, beef up border security and stop the mass influx of undocumented immigrants in hopes of preventing local communities from having to shoulder what some say is a burden in terms of money services and resources.

"If we don't stand up and say, 'Hey, wait a minute here, what's going on?' Who will?" said Kenneth Clark, Galveston County Commissioner Precinct 4.

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