Houston Group Worries About Border Deaths As Congress Discusses Immigration Reform

Immigration reform advocates across the country continue to push Republican members of Congress to get on board with a comprehensive immigration reform bill. One Houston group has a different focus: the increase of immigrant deaths along the Mexican border.

The immigration advocacy group Houston Unido, or Houston United, gathered in front of the Harris County Republican party headquarters on Richmond Avenue to make a point.

But listening to speakers from the group, it can be confusing to understand the immigration reform advocates’ objective.

Maria Jimenez with Houston United says Republicans have said they will not consider the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate.

“And so we’re starting a campaign in order to get John Boehner to address the issue of immigration reform and put it before the House.”

But what the group is primarily concerned about is the rising number of deaths along the border of immigrants trying to go around areas with strong border patrol. Tom Power is a legal advocate with the organization.

“When they cross the checkpoint, they’re getting lost in the desert and they’re dying along the way. That is all a result of our border patrol strategy, of the devices that we use to keep individuals from crossing.”

He says Houston United is not happy with the immigration reform bill because in order to get Republicans support, one component of the bill calls for increased border security. Even so, he says the group prefers the bill over no reform at all.

Elizabeth Theiss with “Stop the Magnet,” a Houston-based group opposing any kind of immigration reform, agrees with Houston United only in that she doesn’t want any more border enforcement than there already is.

“What difference is that going to make if they’re not going to do what they said they were going to do in the first place?”

Her group calls for local enforcement of immigration laws.

Members of Houston United and other groups plan to travel to Washington this week to hold a Congressional briefing on border militarization.

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Florian Martin

Reporter/NewsLab Coordinator

Florian Martin is the KUHF NewsLab Coordinator. While guiding and overseeing interns, he works on his own stories and is always on call to cover breaking news and other media events...