The League City Council voted 6 to 2 to ban undocumented immigrant children from entering the town by refusing to cooperate with the federal government.
Due to the massive influx of undocumented immigrant children from Central America, detention centers at the border have become overwhelmed. Photos of children sleeping on the floor and in cages has prompted the federal government to act in what is now being called a humanitarian emergency.
Federal officials have scoured local communities near the border for schools, gyms and other public facilities to use as processing centers and temporary housing.
Now League City is refusing to help process or detain the undocumented immigrants, effectively banning the immigrant children from the town.
To many observers, the measure seems premature. After all, the federal government hasn’t made any request of the town.
However, as councilwoman Heidi Thiesss explains, the government is not giving fair warning.
“If they are going behind the back of local authorities to establish detention centers in communities about our size, we have to be proactive, we have to plan for this.”
The council cited numerous reasons to ban the undocumented immigrant children. The measure says that they’re afraid of the potential threat of communicable diseases.
According to the Baptist Child & Family Services, an agency contracted to help with the centers, the children have been remarkably healthy with only cases of lice and scabies.
However, there are sources from Fox News claiming signs of tuberculosis are present in the facilities, including symptoms like coughing up blood and constant chest pain. The conflicting information may have helped motivate the ban on undocumented immigrant children.
Locals also stated that they believed in the ban because of a lack of resources. “We can’t even take care of ourselves. We have veterans that are homeless,” stated one resident in the public comment session.
Arguments against the ban were also emotional and well-prepared. “Children are innocent,” said local resident Liz Samsos “I don’t think that the children themselves should have to be judged; kids are kids.”
Protestors gathered outside the city hall and shouted, “shame on you” after the resolution passed.
Another argument was that the ban was illegal and unenforceable. “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 councilman Dennis O’Keefe.
As legal experts have pointed out, federal law does trump local ordinances.
“City councils get frustrated with immigration problems,” said Prof. Gerald Treece with the South Texas College of Law. “But it’s simply not the city’s legal right to tell the federal government what they can and cannot do in the area of immigration. Even states don’t have the authority to do this, much less a city.”
Despite the legal problems, banning immigrant kids does appear to be a growing trend. In Murrieta, CA, angry protesters blocked three buses of undocumented immigrant children who were to be housed in their town.
Likewise, Galveston County commissioners have passed resolutions similar to the League City ban.
(Image Source: David McNew/Getty Images)