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Immigration Debate Front and Center in Houston

As many of you are aware, the Houston Police Department opted not to sign an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which would have allowed HPD officers to screen suspected illegal immigrants for their immigration status. ICE is a federal agency under the wing of the Department of Homeland Security. The mission of ICE is to protect national security by enforcing our nation's customs and immigration laws. Obviously, any immigration issue is highly controversial, with emotions ranging all over the spectrum. It is my belief that Mayor Bill White should be congratulated on his efforts to distance our great city away from a program like this.

A spokesman from ICE said last Friday that HPD had voluntarily withdrawn from the federal program, as it "did not correlate with [Houston's] specific law enforcement needs." Further, Mayor Bill White was noted as saying that the ICE program was not tailored to suit Houston's needs. In fact, Mayor White prefers an alternative to the ICE program discussed above, named Secure Communities. Secured Communities would give HPD access to a massive immigration database to check suspects' immigration history, but it does not allow police officers to force individuals to provide evidence of their United States citizenship.

Once again, without getting too political, I would like to commend Mayor White on his brave stance on this issue. Without leaders willing to stand up for what is right, and preserve human rights, our city, state, and nation would not be the "land of the free, and the home of the brave."

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