Published July 31, 2014
By Sydney Walter, The Belton Journal
Housing undocumented immigrants is not in the best interest of Bell County, according to a resolution adopted by the Commissioners Court on Monday. The Court similarly encourages state and federal government officials to take measures stopping the influx of illegal immigrants.
The resolution does not specify any action to address issues presented by immigration, nor does it give law enforcement officials any guidelines.
“The county has a history of responding with compassion to disaster,” said Bell County Judge Jon Burrows. “Our position is not one of being uncaring. Housing immigrants is just not in the county’s best interest for a number of reasons.”
The Court made the county’s stance on the immigration issue clear in light of a national immigration crisis, explaining that nearly 90,000 undocumented minors alone would enter the country this year.
“Other areas experiencing similar pressure, such as Fort Sill near Lawton, Oklahoma, are struggling,” Burrows said. “It would not be appropriate for Bell County, with responsibility for Fort Hood, to do the same.”
Burrows further explained that it was necessary that state and local governments work proactively to counter the effects of this crisis, as it placed an economic and social burden on the community that local governments cannot handle alone.
“When Hurricane Ike displaced people from the coast to our area, the county mawde efforts to help people with housing. We understand the need of response in crisis, the situation now is just different,” said Burrows.
While not a detailed policy initiative, the resolution seeks to clarify the county’s position in response to the questions and protests of local residents.
Also approved during the Court’s meeting was the allotment of land in Salado for the Oncor Electric Corporation to build an electric sub-station to accommodate local power lines, and the authorization of the County to buy two new police pursuit vehicles. Both measures passed unanimously.