Houston launches effort to welcome immigrants, refugees

Courtney Fischer Image
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Plan aims to welcome immigrants
Houston was one out of 20 cities given grant money to put together a "welcoming plan."

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The City of Houston wants to be a welcoming city to foreign-born residents. The just-announced "Welcoming Houston" initiative is a plan to gather local leaders to improve opportunities for immigrants and refugees.

Houston was one out of 20 cities across the U.S. given grant money to put together this "welcoming plan."

What is it?

Basically, it will be a report of recommendations of how Houston can be a better place, with better services, for immigrants.

The initiative was announced at a neighborhood center because it is where a lot of those immigrants get help when they start a new life in Houston.

According to information provided by the Partnership for a New American Economy, an immigration issues group, in 2014, foreign-born people contributed $116.5 billion to our area.

But what really resonated wasn't the dollars and cents -- it was hearing from an immigrant from Guatemala who has lived here for 20 years.

Jose Sic shared his story about working odd jobs, making a life here, and opening his own business. He's now the owner of a soccer field complex, and he talked about doing all of that without papers, and how difficult it's been. And he's still undocumented.

Sic understands the importance of resources for immigrants. He said through an interpreter, "To those who have privileges of staying here and being a citizen, I ask that you consider us as people, as human beings with feelings and individual thoughts and that it's very difficult to stay here since there are so many obstacles for undocumented people, but we are people, and we have families and we just want to live a good life."

The plan is being developed now and will be presented to the mayor in November.