AUSTIN - In response to the unprecedented number of immigrant children seeking refuge in the United States, Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D - Houston) provided the following statement:
"Governor Perry should issue a Disaster Declaration in response to the current humanitarian crisis, just like he did nine years ago in response to Hurricane Katrina. The Governor may issue such a declaration 'to reduce vulnerability of people and communities of this state to damage, injury, and loss of life and property resulting from natural or man-made catastrophes, riots, or hostile military or paramilitary action.'
When Hurricane Katrina devastated Gulf Coast communities, Texas under Governor Perry's leadership stepped up to the plate. We provided secure shelter, food, and medical care for over 200,000 refugees. It's time to do the same for these children. The Governor has already directed an additional $1.3 million per week to increase border security, but this money does little to help the situation at hand. Additional dollars could be made available through the budget execution process. So I call on Governor Perry to recognize this crisis for what it is - a humanitarian one - and use his authority to direct additional resources to ensure that these children are safe and in good conditions until their cases are adjudicated.
President Obama has requested almost $4 billion to address this crisis, the largest share of which will go toward food, housing, and medical care. I urge Governor Perry to follow the President's example. By issuing a Disaster Proclamation, Governor Perry would be better able to implement emergency plans to mitigate this situation and show the rest of the nation how Texas cares for those in need."
Representative Coleman is available for comment.
Texas Humanitarian Efforts in Response to Hurricane Katrina
· State of disaster declared to expedite humanitarian assistance.
· Took in an estimated 220,000 refugees.
· Opened shelters across the state, including Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas-Fort Worth.
· Provided access to food and clean water.
· Local school districts opened for displaced children, ensuring that they could continue their education.
· Universities took in displaced students and athletic programs from New Orleans universities, such as Tulane, Loyola, and the University of New Orleans.
· Provided speedy and efficient access to state health and nutrition assistance programs.
· Provided free access to parks and zoos for evacuees.
If our state could mobilize to provide shelter for 200,000 refugees left by Katrina, certainly we can do the same for these 52,000 young children.