Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will hold a press conference today about a possible immigration detention center coming to the city.
A lot of activity was seen at the former Star of Hope Women’s and Children’s facility on Emancipation Avenue and Prairie on Monday.
The center is expected to house unaccompanied minors and children ranging in age from zero to 17-years-old who have been separated from their parents.
The non-profit organization Southwest Keys confirmed that they have applied for a state license to operate the facility. If approved, up to 240 children could be housed there.
But Mayor Turner has already denounced plans to open a child processing center near downtown Houston.
“I don’t want in the city of Houston for us to participate in a policy that I think is morally bankrupt,” Turner told ABC13 on Saturday. “This is not about party, not about Democrat or Republican, nothing about that. It’s about valuing children.”
In the meantime, President Trump has doubled down on his “zero tolerance” immigration policy to separate children from their parents who are facing prosecution for crossing the border illegally.
The president plans to make a trip to Capitol Hill Tuesday to speak with GOP members about the issue.
On Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released new video from inside a facility holding children.
The Homeland Security secretary says the kids are being treated well and that keeping them in the center is lawful.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has introduced emergency legislation to keep families with their children during this process.
The proposal also doubles the number of federal immigration judges to expedite the process.
Outside the building on Emancipation Avenue, the civil rights group FIEL plans to protest.
“It’s troubling. Troubling that we are going to have kids separated from their parents without knowing where their parents are, right in the heart of Houston,” said Cesar Espinoza, Executive Director of FIEL.
But not everyone sees the proposed center as an unwelcoming sight. The Harris County Republican Party pointed out that parents crossing the border illegally must be prosecuted, and during their prosecution, their children must go somewhere.
“They’re being provided healthcare, education and medical attention. They’re being provided an environment where they can be safe and be supervised to ensure they are properly cared for,” Republican activist Vlad Davidiuk said.
State records show Southwest Key already operates 15 similar facilities across the state of Texas, five in the greater Houston area.
State officials did not give a timeline of when they will make a decision on the licensing application for the downtown Houston location.