HPOU president to mayor: Amend or scrap the sanctuary directive

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In the latest edition of Badge & Gun, the publication of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, president Gary Blankinship serves up this rather pointed memo to Mayor White*:

To be sure, Mr. Mayor, the Houston Police Officers Union joins you in urging Washington to live up to its clear responsibilities; but today we also are calling on you, along with Gov. Rick Perry and other state and local leaders, to finally recognize state and local governments also have a vitally important and necessary role to play in addressing illegal immigration.

It’s time for you to do your job as well.

For starters, you should amend or scrap the 17-year-old Houston Police Department policy (General Order No. 500-5), which firmly states that “officers shall not inquire as to the citizenship status of any person, nor will officers detain or arrest any persons solely on the belief that they are in this country illegally.”

It is outrageous to learn that, as recently as November of last year, you were fully aware that thousands of illegal immigrants eligible for deportation – all convicted felons like Joel Alfaro – were slipping through Houston’s jails undetected by federal immigration officials.

You rightly noted the city of Houston “can’t deport people;” but isn’t that particularly true if the city policy you have repeatedly defended intentionally discourages our officers from reporting them?

We welcome your new support for the 287(g) program that lets HPD train and coordinate with federal immigration officials – and other new pledges of enhanced resources and cooperation – but you can do more. We also hope you will act immediately to change Houston’s status as a so-called “sanctuary city….”

Mayor White does NOT like the use of the term “sanctuary city,” Mr. Blankinship! Nor does he like to talk about General Order No. 500-5.

Nonetheless, there is no reason that our elected leaders (and the public) shouldn’t have a frank discussion about this directive that came from an unelected police chief 17 years ago, something we’ve been arguing for several years now.


* Strangely, the link leads to the article’s “read more” continuation from the front page, so you’ll have to visit the front page for the start of the piece.

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Kevin Whited
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