Immigrant-related ordinances shot down in Tomball

September 8, 2010 3:19:48 AM PDT
The Tomball City Council meeting had so many people Tuesday night that two dozen were forced to spend the evening outside on the sidewalk. The topic inside Tomball City Hall was how to treat illegal immigrants and making English the city's official language. The meeting wrapped up around 10pm, and ordinances proposing to make English the official of Tomball and to ban illegal immigrants from being able to work, live or own a business all failed.

But the fact that Tomball City Council would propose these ordinances sparked a huge debate.

Protesters were staged across the street from Tomball City Hall, and on the sidewalk, at least a dozen more more were forced to wait outside because of an overcrowded council chambers. Even the media was restricted.

Inside, there was a debate over rights for illegal immigrants.

"We want to stop this hatred against Hispanics and focus on the real issue," one resident said during the meeting. "Tomball cannot be a white-only community. We are in the 21st century and not in the 60's."

Tomball City Councilman Derek Townsend is proposing an ordinance that would ban illegal immigrants from owning businesses and renting property. He also wants English to be the official language of the city.

Some say it's ridiculous. Others say it's only fair.

"Everybody here is not full of hatred," one resident told us. "Everybody here is not actually for, 'If you cannot speak my language, I do not want to speak to you.' How ludicrous is that?"

"I'm supposed to be out here to bring light on all these thieves, criminals and murderers and rapists that are flooding across our borders," another resident said.

The council is also proposing shutting down the city-run day labor facility, which has a sign that's posted in both English and Spanish. Critics say it's being used by illegal immigrants and laws need to be enforced.

Supporters say people are just trying to earn an honest living.

"If we ignore the laws that we have, then we are part of the problem," one resident said.

"All they're doing is coming and getting $20, $30 because they need to feed their families, and that's all they're doing," another resident said. "Yes, I hear some stories about criminals, but there are criminals all over."

As for the day labor site, city council voted to keep it open but they're seeking better ways to manage it.


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