Mayor Turner responds to proposed housing shelter for separated immigrant children in Houston

By Taisha Walker - Reporter

HOUSTON - An event at Discovery Green in Houston meant to celebrate the heritage of immigrants was overshadowed Saturday by the news that a shelter for migrant children, separated from their families, will open in Houston.

District I Councilman Robert Gallegos said he learned the shelter would open in his district, off Emancipation Avenue. It’s the same east downtown facility that was used in 2017 to house people left homeless by Hurricane Harvey.

“It’s incarceration, basically,” Gallegos said. “They don’t want to call it that but when you basically put someone behind four walls and don’t give them the opportunity to leave when they want to leave, you may be calling it a temporary detention center but I call it a jail.”

The first generation Mexican-American said the shelter could house up to 240 migrant children separated from their families. The children, he said, would we 12 years and younger.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said he does not support children being taken from migrant families on the Mexican border and he does not want that shelter in his city.

“I do not agree with it,” the mayor said. “And I would encourage the owner of that building to the extent that’s the current plans, not to proceed with housing children that have been separated from their parents.”

U.S. Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, who represents Houston’s 18th district, said she plans to challenge President Donald Trump to stop what she calls an illegal policy.

“We in the federal government question an illegal policy. There is no law that is requiring the Trump administration to do this,” said the Democrat.

Congresswoman Jackson Lee disputed claims that Democrats are responsible for what’s happening at the border.

“I don’t want this to be me versus the administration,” she said. “I’m calling upon the administration, to tell the truth. This was a policy that was created solely by the administration.”

Southwest Keys Program released the following statement:

"Southwest Key has applied to the State of Texas for a license to operate a child care facility in Houston. If that license is granted, we will provide childcare for immigrant children sent to us from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, similar to other non-profit organizations that do this work in Houston and the surrounding areas.

"We are a non-profit with Latino leadership based in Austin. We operate 26 licensed child care shelters in Texas, Arizona and California and have done so for twenty years."

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