Jef Rouner

Where’s Mayor Turner’s Declaration of Houston as a Sanctuary City?

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Illustration by Shelby Hohl


Donald Trump is president-elect. He really is. I double checked and everything. Down is up, rats are fish, and Smashing Pumpkins are eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. This shit is officially bananas!


One of the many, many terrible things that Trump said in his run for the presidency was that he would do his best to end sanctuary cities, places in the United States that do not typically seek out undocumented immigrants for deportation only because they are undocumented. In a speech in September he promised to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities and pass laws to make such cities cooperate with federal law enforcement. All part of Trump’s blatantly racist and willfully ignorant creed that brown people are responsible for the all the crime in this country, and one of the many dog whistles that propelled his win thanks to uneducated, easily-led white people.


In response, many mayors across America have vowed to defy Trump on the issue. San Francisco, New York and Illinois have already made statements regarding their intention not to break up families over civil offenses simply to feed a race-based paranoia that flies in the face of all statistics. The idea that immigrants, undocumented or not, commit more crime than native-born Americans is simply a myth.


Missing from the list of those that have taken a stand? Houston and Mayor Sylvester Turner. That’s unacceptable.


Let’s be clear: Trump may have won Texas, but he did not win Houston. Hillary Clinton not only beat Trump here, she beat him by a bigger margin than even George W. Bush won here by in 2024. It may not have been enough to turn Texas purple, but there’s no arguing that in terms of numbers Houston voters told Donald Trump to go pound sand.


Mayor Turner owes it to the people who voted him into power to make a statement rejecting Trump’s deportation schemes as other cities have done. Here more than anywhere else in the nation should we be clear that we will not be bullied into bigoted authoritarianism.


Houston is a city of immigrants. We’re the most diverse city in the country. Over 140 languages are spoken here. When I pick up my daughter from school she exits the building with children from Mexico, India, France, Brazil, Korea and God knows where else. Their parents come here to be engineers and doctors, and we are abundantly better for having them. They enrich us with culture and food and comfort and care for their fellow man.


This isn’t an uneducated place where emotionally-charged rhetoric should circumvent reason. We guide the path to space and pioneer life-saving medicine. We are cultured, full of museums and art and fine schools.


Houston should not trade any of that unique wonder in for a false sense of safety begotten by witch hunts. Yes, when people commit violent crimes and are found to not be in the country legally, they should be sent away. No one is questioning that, but banishing people because of a broken taillight or for trying to work is purity-driven madness.


In addition, it’s actively harmful to crime prevention. Houston police rely on upstanding members of the immigrant community to help solve crimes within that community. Such people need to feel they can safely call the police to help them with a murder or robbery without risking being deported. We don’t want some serial killer out on the streets because someone’s abuela wouldn’t take the chance that Johnny Law was going to run her papers.


The next four years are going to very much be about lines in the sand, something Texas is famously comfortable with. We have to decide who we want to be, and Houston voters made it abundantly clear that who they want to be is the opposite of Trump’s hate-filled vision. Our swampy soil is a poor place to build walls.


The mayor cannot be silent on this. He needs to make a definitive statement regarding where he stands, and thus can Houston judge him accordingly. We need to know that we can count on him to be firm on federal overreach and protect the families that contribute so much to what makes Houston special. Simply existing here should not be a crime in and of itself, and I’ll be damned if I’m going let President-Elect Trump blackmail us into turning HPD into browncoats without a fight. We’re better than that, and there’s no need to be shy about it. So let’s see something in writing, Mr. Mayor.


As for you, readers? You can contact the mayor’s office and let him know where you stand as well.

  • Twine

    Whomever wrote this stupid “Ass Article” is petty as race baiting. Mayor Turner doesn’t have to prove shit to you or the “Illegals”!!!! Why should he take a stand and say, yes I will habor and protect people that have illegally invaded America. Speaking of breaking up family…..Dumb Ass, Blacks were placed on auction blocks, separated from their families and sold into slavery but you need to protect the Hispanics????? I stop reading this dumb ass article because it made me wanna puke. To the writer, go play on interstate 45 or something.

  • Nordonia Nate

    So, violating US Constitutional law is what the Democrats are advocating.

    Interesting … check out Mexico’s record on illegal immigration. Check out Mexico’s immigration laws.

    Maybe the author could do an op ed and spend some time in Mexico investigating these things and get back to us on it?

  • Josh Ranger

    And if the Mayor does what you suggest he would be in violation of the Law & could be arrested.
    1907. Title 8, U.S.C. 1324(a) Offenses
    Harboring — Subsection 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) makes it an offense for any person who — knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation.

  • Josh Ranger

    Well Jef you have no idea what you’re spewing. I believe in borders, the rule of law and our sovereign right to decide who to let into our country; that’s not xenophobic.
    Illegal alien’s have committed over 700,000 crimes against Texans. And stating illegals wouldn’t report crimes because of fears of being deported is Wrong, they only submit criminal’s arrested fingerprints to check their immigration status