Immigrants and supporters call on Houston to sue Texas

For 28 years, Houston Erika Juarez has lived in Houston. In her mind, the absence of a document saying she came here legally doesn't make this community any less her home.

It's an existence Erika and many others consider under threat from the state's new anti-sanctuary city law.

"I know a lot of people who are afraid to even drive their kids to school or go to the park and they don't want to go out for any reason," said Juarez adding, "We feel (the law) is going to be very racist because of our skin color, police are going to stop us."

And many who crowded council chambers Tuesday share Erika Juarez's circumstance and story.

They're urging Houston leaders to join other Texas cities in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SB 4.

Houston's Democratic office holders, who failed to stop the law in Austin, pleaded with Mayor Sylvester Turner and council to get off the fence and very publicly join the fight.

"A broken taillight will lead to a broken family which will lead to broken faith in our system," said State Senator Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat.

But Councilman Greg Travis warned that the leap from by-stander city to active combatant could have steep financial consequences for Houston taxpayers if federal funds are endangered.

"By doing this, we may be telling everybody we are a sanctuary city. Right now we don't have those issues, but if we have this, we might actually lose money that helps citizens, the very people that you're talking about and I'm talking about," said Travis.

Councilman Mike Knox argued that joining a lawsuit others have already committed to wage is a mostly symbolic gesture with a downside of genuine risk.

"The interests of the citizens of Houston are best served by remaining out of the litigation, allowing the other cities to absorb the cost of that and it will be determined one way or the other without our financial involvement," said Knox.

Houston City Council is scheduled to vote on the issue Wednesday.