PA mayor makes statement on sanctuary cities on Facebook

Published 5:07 pm Thursday, February 16, 2017

In a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon, Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman wrote the last thing the city wants is for parts of the Hispanic community to go into the shadows because of federal immigration policies.

Freeman was in Austin meeting with Mayor Steve Adler on Thursday and said via telephone interview he wanted to take a proactive approach to the immigration issue. At the same time, he wants to link Port Arthur with larger cities with the same demographic makeup and come up with some solutions.

President Donald Trump’s administration has threatened to withhold federal funding for sanctuary cities.

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Freeman said Port Arthur gets $20 million from HUD, $2 million in transportation, $2 million for healthcare issues in addition to Community Development Block Grants and other programs.

“We get a lot of money from the feds,” he said. “We want to be on the right side of the law, but we don’t want the Hispanic community in the shadows. It hurts my heart.”

“We want to welcome them in our city. Forty percent of our population in our city are Hispanic,” he said.

He added that he doesn’t want to turn Port Arthur Police officers into federal agents.

On the other hand, Freeman said “nefarious” gang members will be turned over to Immigration Customs Enforcement agents.

“We want the bad guys out and extend a hand to the Hispanic community,” he said. “I want clarity of what mayors do, what county commissioners do, what legislators do.”

Freeman said he’s relieved to implement policy based on his personal philosophy rather than what is politically popular.

“That’s neither here or there,” Freeman said. “It’s a blessing not having to rely on a poll.”

The mayor has a Hispanic Community Forum scheduled for March 11.

He said he will be listening and answering questions.

He emphasized that he does not want to weaken public safety.

“If anyone sees a crime committed, call the police department. If anyone sees a fire, call the fire department. If anyone knows of a contagious disease, call the health department. Public safety is what the mayor and the police does.”

Freeman’s statement on Facebook is as follows:

There’s been a lot of talk about #SanctuaryCities. As the Mayor of our great city I need our Hispanic community to know that we have your back.

I recently heard of a child that was being molested and her mother was afraid to call the police because of deportation fears. Please know public safety is what our police forces does. Not immigration. The last thing we want is for parts of our Hispanic community to go into the shadows because of Federal uncertainties. If you witness a crime please call the police. If your home catches fire, please call the fire department. We won’t show up asking about immigration status.

So do we need immigration reform? Especially when a Cuban can touch our soil and get automatic protections, but a Haitian gets a round trip back home. YES we need reform! But the mayors and cities in America aren’t the ones that can change that. We do streets, water, trash, sewer, parks, etc. not immigration. Also, the city of #PortArthurTexas doesn’t detain folks. When you’re arrested we turn you over to the county. So there’s no way we could be out of compliance with ICE retainers, since we have no jail to release people from. Please help spread the word!

I’m building a coalition with several mayors across #Texas to address growing concerns with proactive solutions. Great meeting with Mayor Steve Adler of #AustinTexas. I have a Hispanic community forum coming up at the #PortArthurLibrary on March 11th to answer questions. More info coming soon.

Reaction to the mayor’s post was mixed.

Virginia Powell posted, “I’m against sanctuary cities. I’ll report any illegals I know.”

While Charlotte Moses, “Great job Mayor!”

Zuly Zurita posted that she thinks crimes may go unreported if people who are able to report them fear being deported.

“That’s exactly why many don’t do the right thing for fear of being reported by ignorant people,” posted Zurita.


David Ball: 409-721-242