Another dumb idea
I don't really have much to say about this ugly plan to turn the Houston Police into an arm of the INS. Let's put aside the question of why the movers behind this idea want to turn a federal problem into a local one. It's always splashier to go for the cheap political stunt than it is to ask why Texas's Senators and Congressfolk have been unable to provide sufficient funding for immigration enforcement in their home state, after all. And let's ignore the question of where HPD will get the manpower and funding to pick up these new responsibilities, since those are tacky questions. And of course, we can just let the issue of how HPD can tell a citizen or legal immigrant from an illegal immigrant slide on past, since that opens a can of worms no one really wants to deal with.
But we can't let this little exhibit of political fortitude slip away without comment. Here's City Council member turned Congressional hopeful Shelley Sekula-Gibbs explaining her support for the movement:
"This has gone on long enough," Sekula-Gibbs said. "It is time for Houston to stand up and assist the federal government in enforcing immigration laws."
Sekula-Gibbs, who recently has tried to raise her profile on the border-security issue as she seeks to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, told the Houston Chronicle in November that she didn't have a "strong opinion" on a similar measure posed by then-Councilman Mark Ellis. He tried to force a council vote on the issue when he was seeking a Republican state Senate nomination in a conservative district.
"It's a political stunt," she said then of Ellis' measure, which would have similarly changed the police policy but also required people to show proof of U.S. citizenship to get "taxpayer-provided social services."
Sekula-Gibbs said it would be impossible to verify someone's immigration status before, for example, putting out a fire. She said she also disapproved of Ellis' tactic of trying to force a council vote on a nonbinding resolution.
A charter referendum, by contrast, would be binding on city policy.
"The city's sanctuary policy was wrong then, and it's wrong now," Sekula-Gibbs said Tuesday. "What he was trying to do was just political posturing."
I hope you didn't get whiplash from that turnabout on her part. Note that last November, Sekula-Gibbs lacked the huevos to sign on to a similar stunt by Mark Ellis, even though she clearly agreed with the sentiment. Of course, back then she needed the support of the entire city of Houston, even though she was running against a no-name crackpot perennial candidate. Now that it's in her interest to whip up the nativists, and in particular now that she won't be in a position to have to account for HPD's financial and personnel needs when the bill for this travesty comes due, it's anything goes. I think if I stayed up all night thinking about it, I couldn't come up with a more fitting way to describe Sekula-Gibbs' tenure on City Council. So congratulations, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. You really did yourself proud.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 22, 2006 to Local politics
I don't really have much to say about this ugly plan to turn the Houston Police into an arm of the INS.
Sure you do. You've said it all with that inflammatory rhetoric.
But what I don't understand is why you and other proponents of the sanctuary policy are convinced that by simply removing a directive that was issued by the police chief in 1992 with no public debate or input from ELECTED officials, suddenly we are going to turn Houston into an oppressive, brown-hating police state. I don't think the HPD brass is inclined to do that, and I don't think a majority of the city's elected officials are inclined to do that.
If the sanctuary policy is such a good idea, then why not have a public debate and let our elected officials embrace it? Maybe the public debate will lead to a better policy! Maybe it will lead to repeal of the policy.
I don't know why the prospect of having a public debate and letting our elected officials endorse/improve/repeal a policy instituted by a police chief via dictate in 1992 is so scary to some people who usually trumpet themselves as small-d democrats.
You want to have a debate, fine, let's have a debate. Starting a petition drive to enshrine a preferred policy in the city charter isn't a debate.
Here's a question for you. If this has been city policy since 1992, why is it vital to do something about it now? Funny how that works, isn't it?