Public outcry against President Trump’s immigration freeze stretched across the country and Texas, including in Houston.
The City of Houston has played a large role in the country’s refugee resettlement program and is one of America’s most diverse cities. On Sunday, some local officials spoke out against closing the door to refugees and immigrants from certain Muslim countries. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted that Houston will always be a welcoming city. Houston’s Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee echoed that sentiment.
“We’re not going to yield to panic and fear that is being exhibited by the White House. We hope the White House will learn from America, we don’t want to learn from the White House,” she said.
Jackson Lee is on the Homeland Security Committee. The Houston Democrat says she wants to take away any funding that’s fueling the new immigration order.
Jackson Lee spoke Sunday at Bush Intercontinental Airport, where she told reporters federal authorities had detained at least six people over the weekend, including an Iraqi green card holder. The airport Starbucks filled with volunteer attorneys, who formed a legal rapid response team.
Rosemary Vega is with the immigration law clinic at the University of Houston Law Center.
“We’re getting calls. If we get families that need assistance, that people are being detained and not being released, we’re here to maybe file habeas and help them however we can,” Vegas said.
In downtown Houston on Sunday more than a thousand people gathered just steps away from the Super Bowl festivities.
“Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here. Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” they chanted.
People in football jerseys streamed by the protesters who stretched the length of a city block and overflowed into a parking lot. The protest drew a wide range of people — immigrants, members of the local Muslim community, a rabbi and some of his congregation and members of a Methodist church who had just finished Sunday service.
Rabbi Josh Lobel said that he noticed that the immigration freeze came down on Friday, which also marked the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“When we’re banning people, women and children, innocents, people who are just looking to escape, that to me is a terrifying sign,” Lobel said.
Jolie Rocke Brown says she came because she can’t stay at home anymore and just post her discontent on social media.
So she led protesters in song.
“I feel this is a new movement. This is a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement, but now it’s more inclusive, which it needs to be more inclusive,” she said.
While several other Texas cities joined Houston in protesting Trump’s immigration freeze, the state’s congressional delegation was mostly silent this weekend. A few Texas Republicans applauded Trump’s order, including U.S. Representatives Mike McCaul from Austin and John Ratcliffe from North Texas.