I must say that Gary Blankinship and the Houston Police Officers Union‘s wants are coming in loud and clear to the Latino activist community.
For starters, you should amend or scrap the 17-year-old Houston Police Department policy (General Order No. 500-5), which firmly states that “officers shall not inquire as to the citizenship status of any person, nor will officers detain or arrest any persons solely on the belief that they are in this country illegally.”
It is outrageous to learn that, as recently as November of last year, you were fully aware that thousands of illegal immigrants eligible for deportation — all convicted felons like Joel Alfaro — were slipping through Houston’s jails undetected by federal immigration officials. You rightly noted the city of Houston “can’t deport people;” but isn’t that particularly true if the city policy you have repeatedly defended intentionally discourages our officers from reporting them?
We welcome your new support for the 287(g) program that lets HPD train and coordinate with federal immigration officials — and other new pledges of enhanced resources and cooperation — but you can do more. We also hope you will act immediately to change Houston’s status as a so-called “sanctuary city” as outlined at http://www.houstontx.gov/moira/:
“The policy of (Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs) is to encourage access by all persons residing in the city of Houston, regardless of nation of birth or current citizenship status, to the full benefits, opportunities and services which are provided and administered by the city of Houston.”
Blankinship even goes so far as to use nativist language by calling the policy a “de facto sanctuary policy.” This is the type of rhetoric that promotes the hate that exists in our community. It is shameful that a police officer would use this type of language.
This reactionary attitude simply endangers our community. If a change occurs, it is sure to affect crime reporting in the Latino community. On top of that, my fear is this would just allow de facto racial/ethnic profiling.
Some would say, more racial/ethnic profiling than usual.
I challenge Latino elected officials to take them on. And I challenge candidates who have received HPOU’s endorsement to retract their acceptance of said endorsement.