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The rumors began with a “job opening” post from Southwest Key, the same “nonprofit” that runs the child jail at the former Wal-Mart in the Valley, that was making the rounds. Houston Councilman Robert Gallegos and others investigated to find out it’s true: The Trump administration plans to open a “temporary” child prison to warehouse children taken out of the arms of migrant parents escaping Central American violence and poverty.
State Senator Sylvia Garcia issued a statement: Now is the time to gather together to stop this baby jail before a single child seeking refuge is locked up in our city. The Trump administration has made it clear that it will rip children away from their parents despite legal and child development experts telling them that it is unnecessary and known to cause lifelong harm. No law requires this. Humanity demands compassion. We must say as a community with one voice that jailing children away from their parents is wrong, it should not happen anywhere, and we as Houstonians will not allow it to happen here. Not now. Not ever.
Houston City Council Member Robert Gallegos: While the City was not involved in the decision or notified beforehand, we will advocate for these children and do all we can to ensure they are cared for with compassion and dignity. Children should be with their families, not warehoused in a detention center hundreds of miles away from their parents. The Trump administration’s inhumane policy of separating families is shameful and goes against the very values our nation was founded on. Congress has failed on immigration reform so many times before. But now, more than ever, lawmakers must seize this moment to pass legislation to end this unnecessary policy and protect children.
Lupe Valdez, candidate for Governor: The Trump administration and Governor Abbott’s fear-based approach to immigration is inhumane and un-American. These migrant families came to our border because they believed in the hope and promise our country has always offered — and we must treat them with decency.
Lina Hidalgo, candidate for Harris County Judge: I am devastated that more than 2,000 children have been taken away from their parents in the name of the country of which I am so proud. Children are too precious, and their minds too impressionable, for any of us to stand by while they are traumatized. These children must be returned to their parents, and our government must end its policy of forced separation of families immediately.
State Rep. Carol Alvarado: My legislative district has now been selected as a site where many of these children will be placed. Years from now, when these children have grown up, some of them will ask how Houstonians responded during their time of confinement here. These children need our support.
Beto O’Rourke, Congressman and candidate for US Senate (Texas): When our country takes kids away from their mothers and fathers as punishment for coming to this country to seek asylum, when we call those kids “unaccompanied alien children” after we’ve forcibly “unaccompanied” them and sent them to shelters without any clear idea of when, or if, they’ll see their moms and dads again…we’d like to say this isn’t us, this isn’t what we do, this isn’t America.
State Rep. Ana Hernandez: We will not stand by and silently watch while families are being torn apart and children are detained in prison facilities. A baby jail for immigrant minors forcibly taken from their families has no place in Houston.
More statements will be added as they arrive.