Mayor, police chief speak at Islamic Society of Great Houston town hall

The Islamic Society of Greater Houston held a town hall meeting on Monday to address some of the fears from immigrant families,

Houston’s mayor and police chief joined them to answer questions, especially about deportation.

Much of this town hall celebrated the diversity of Houston, and at one point, Mayor Sylvester Turner asked the couple dozen or so Muslim HPD officers to stand so he could thank them.

But much of the panel was also about mitigating the undercurrent of fear in immigrant communities.

“This is a city that respects people for who they are, that values family, people who are expressing themselves, and not running away from their culture,” said Turner.

“This community feels vulnerable, and they're being painted with a very broad brush by a lot of folks, including a lot of my fellow Christians. Truth is, the vast majority of Muslims who follow Islamic values are not terrorists, and we stand with them,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Part of the discussion focused on sanctuary cities with immigration lawyers on the panel, who advised the community to not be scared to go to HPD and pointed out that they are not ICE.

This discussion comes in light of President Trump's recent executive order threatening to cut off federal funding for cities that wouldn't fully cooperate with the federal authorities to deport undocumented immigrants.

“We go after people that commit violent crimes and property crimes and breaking our homes and crimes and hurting us -- if the only thing someone’s done is stay here undocumented, we don’t have the bandwidth, we don’t have the experience, the mandate under the law to go after those folks,” said Acevedo. “They need to know we're here for them.”

The mayor also said the city does not profile and will not start profiling to determine if someone is here illegally. He pushed the point that diversity does nothing if it's not also inclusive.

“I represent 2.3 million. It doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter what language you speak. There are 142 language in this city. Doesn’t matter your religion, [what] your faith may be, I am your mayor, and I represent each and every community…” said Turner.

One of the questions posed was whether someone could be deported when showing up at the courthouse, and the mayor did respond, saying there is no reason for people to avoid municipal courts and that the courthouse will not be an area where law enforcement targets undocumented immigrants.