Advocates Discuss Strategies To Counteract The Problems Of Undocumented Immigrants

Local activists and representatives from groups based in other states meet in Houston.


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Some immigration advocates and activists think Texas is becoming an increasingly stressful atmosphere for undocumented immigrants.

Advocates from states like Arizona, California and Maryland met in Houston this week with local counterparts to come up with plans and strategies to counteract what they see as a problem for the undocumented community.

Kate Vickery leads the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, which includes organizations such as Catholic Charities, the YMCA's International Services and Baker Ripley Neighborhood Center.

Vickery says one of the main conclusions of the conference is that Houston needs more lawyers that will work with undocumented immigrants who are now at risk of deportation and who will do it offering affordable prices or working pro-bono.

Vickery also thinks the recently passed Texas law about so-called sanctuary cities, commonly known as SB4, is just one of the problems because it "exacerbates what has already happened in terms of changes in national policy and executive orders on immigration, which already expanded the priorities for who is deportable."

Adonías Arévalo is the Texas coordinator for United We Dream (UWD), which is the largest dreamer group in the United States.

Arévalo, who is a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, says the fear of SB4 and of more strict deportation guidelines is already impacting Houston's undocumented community.

"Taking the bus, instead of driving, people not being able to go, you know, to the places they go of worship or their church," lists Arévalo as some examples of that impact.

Pastor John Ogletree is a member of The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), a local multi-faith group that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform that is directly trying to lobby with politicians that represent Texas in Congress.

"Those are our targets, to meet with Congressman Culbertson, talk to him, Congressman Poe, as well as Senator Cornyn," Ogletree tells Houston Public Media and adds his group is aiming at Capitol Hill because they still see a small opportunity for comprehensive immigration reform.

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