Our Coalition Platform
Local Houston area organizations and advocates – collectively called Houston Leads – have gathered to advocate for sound policies that protect the immigrant community in Harris County, which is home to more than 412,000 undocumented individuals. In 2017, Harris County was second in deportations nationwide, deporting close to 14,000 individuals. We ask that our current County Commissioners Court pursue solutions so that all residents have access to a fair due process and equal protections of their rights, and fewer people of color and immigrants are incarcerated and deported. Below please find six asks that these groups are offering for Harris County Commissioners and leadership.
#1. Develop clear protocols
To respond to requests from federal agencies, including immigration enforcement agencies. This protocol should include a clear procedure for vetting such requests at high levels within the department or agency and informing local leaders of such requests.
#2. Produce a quarterly audit
That details the use of city and county resources for immigration enforcement. The reports should be publicly available and reviewed by the County Commission at public meetings.
#3. Expand the public defender’s office
To include sufficient immigration expertise and training resources to advise all non-citizens defendants. Ensure that all non-citizens defendants are referred to the PD’s office to be represented and receive a comprehensive immigration advisal.
#4. Reduce the number of people in jail
Expanding the Houston Youth LEAD program to adults throughout Harris County AND ending police practices of making arrests for minor non-violent violations (misdemeanors), particularly driving without a license.
#5. Reduce the number of immigrants deported
Require that individuals are provided with information when ICE seeks to interview them, and offer written consent forms. These forms should explain, among other things, the purpose of the interview, that the interview is voluntary, and that the individual may exercise his/her right to remain silent and decline to be interviewed. The consent form should be available in the five most common languages spoken.
#6. Allocate public funding to establish an Immigrant Legal Defense Fund (ILDF)
To provide free legal representation to indigent immigrants (adults and children) who are facing deportation in the Houston immigration courts in partnership with the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, who will administer the funding to organization who will provide free legal representation.
Harris County is a gateway to mass deportation of immigrants
- Harris County holds more people for ICE than any other County in Texas, costing local taxpayers 1.6 million between May-June of this year.
- Harris County placed first in the nation with the most ICE arrests, according to this recent October 2018 TRAC report.
- The average number of ICE detainers issued on individuals each month in Harris County has risen from 195 in FY2016 to 381 in FY 2018 (a 95% increase).