Smith County commissioners reject 2 immigration-related resolutions

Published on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 13:52 - Written by

BY ADAM RUSSELL, arussell@tylerpaper.com

County commissioners today rejected two resolutions regarding Smith County’s intent to assist any state or federal efforts to shelter an overwhelming number of illegal immigrants, most of them children, crossing into Texas.

Commissioner Terry Phillips presented a version, which laid the blame for the border crisis on President Barack Obama and the federal government. It said the federal government is incentivizing the flow of illegal immigrants by its lack of response and assistance along the border.

The resolution stated the influx would create an overwhelming financial burden for the county and poses health and safety risks to Smith County residents.

County Judge Joel Baker presented another version, which directed county, state and federal legislators and residents to pressure Washington D.C. to address the problem swiftly and in a manner that would restore faith to Smith County residents. But he said the county had no authority to deny cooperation with state and federal initiatives if called upon and that any resolution would be “symbolic” only.

Votes were 3-2 against both resolutions. Phillips and Commissioner Cary Nix supported Phillips’ version, with Baker and Commissioners JoAnn Hampton and Jeff Warr voting against. Baker’s resolution was supported by Warr but Phillips, Nix and Hampton voted against.

Resolutions are non-binding and typically symbolic reflections of court members’ stances on broad policy matters and personal acknowledgments and recognition of constituent achievement or agendas.

Resident Bob Brewer, a member of Grassroots America – We the People, presented a similar resolution to the court two weeks ago during the public comment period and requested its consideration. Similar resolutions have been approved by the League City council and two county commissioners courts.

Commissioner JoAnn Hampton said the original resolution was based on xenophobia and racism. She said the language and “facts” were based on fear and similar in tenor to protestors who shouted at young black students when schools were desegregated decades ago.

Baker said Brewer’s resolution included statements he could not verify with any official entity, including the number of undocumented children expected to cross and how the influx has “bankrupted” some Texas municipalities.

The resolution also ordered county departments and elected officials to refuse any state or federal order to assist in boarding children and families who have entered Texas illegally. Baker said the county could not legally refuse such a request from the state or federal government.