Mayor Sylvester Turner today urged the non-profit Southwest Key and its Houston landlord to abandon a plan to house immigrant children taken from their parents by the federal government at the U.S.-Mexico border.
He said splitting infants and children from their parents or other adult relatives violates basic ethics and values from which people of conscience should not turn away.
“There comes a time when we must draw the line, and for me the line is with our children,” he said.
After a face-to-face meeting with Southwest Key officials, the mayor held a press conference with clergy members and other elected officials and said that the family separation policy is morally bankrupt – and that Southwest Key should not enable it, regardless of the good work it does housing other types of children at facilities around the nation.
“Southwest Key cannot combine its good work with a bad policy and come out smelling like a rose,” he said. “I do not want to be an enabler in this process. I do not want the city to participate in the process.”
The property owner who leased a former warehouse and homeless shelter near downtown Houston for use by Southwest Key is David Denenburg. Mayor Turner made a direct appeal to him to find another use for the building.
Mayor Turner said he will ask the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to deny a child care facility license to Southwest Key. Further, he said, city departments will move methodically in determining whether to grant local permits to the property for dormitory use, fire safety and food service.