A rare special council meeting scheduled for Wednesday (October 28) comes as a direct response to last week's announcement by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that Houston no longer was in consideration for the 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement to assist ICE agents in identifying illegal immigrants in the jails.
But the effort to revive the city's chances is likely to bump up against stiff resistance on council, as many members are planning to skip the meeting, a step that effectively would kill any chance of forcing a vote on the matter.
Houston city council members were previously scheduled off next week, it's the middle of early voting, and the three who want to play hot potato with a political football are all mad-dog Republicans.
Easy to see how this meeting gets denied a quorum.
Political machinations potentially could raise the stakes of the meeting, as several council members are just days away from an election. (Mayor Bill) White, who made an urgent request to join the program in the spring before backing away after negotiations with immigration officials broke down, is actively campaigning for a not-yet-vacated U.S. Senate seat. Councilwoman Toni Lawrence, the leader of the three that called for the special meeting, has begun campaigning to become the next Harris County Precinct 4 commissioner. One of her potential opponents has been running advertising on conservative radio attacking the city for backing away from the program.
Lawrence said she decided to call the meeting after feeling unsatisfied with plans White proposed to her that included further studying the matter. White instead favors having the city participate in another ICE program, dubbed Secure Communities, that gives local law enforcement access to a massive immigration database.
The other two ...
Council members Anne Clutterbuck and Mike Sullivan, who also signed the petition to schedule the special meeting, said the policy should be openly discussed and debated by council, not set by mayoral edict. The procedural move is the first in the history of White's administration, which was marked by rosy relationships among council members for the first five years, but has met with more resistance this year.
Clutterbuck, who supports the 287(g) program, said she plans to attend Wednesday's meeting, but is not optimistic about seeing the issue come to a vote. In addition to Lawrence, Clutterbuck and Sullivan, mayoral hopeful and Councilman Peter Brown plans to attend.
More covering of his right haunch by Brown. Early polling and other circumstantial evidence suggests that Brown is capturing a majority of conservative municipal voters due to his playing both sides of the street and calling it 'independent'. (Or it may be because he's the white guy.) Seriously, this demonstration of solidarity with the one conservative issue responsible for the loudest screaming likely puts him in the run-off with Annise Parker.
Democrats and liberals supporting Peter Brown are in for a very rude awakening.