June 7, 2017 David M. Medina

Hispanic Bar Association Of Houston Issues A Call To Action
In Response To Federal Policy Of Separating Families

Houston, Texas—We, the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston (“HisBA”), call upon all
lawyers, members of the legal profession, family advocates, religious leaders, and all
Americans of good conscience, to join us in condemning the separation of families in
the name of immigration enforcement, raising awareness regarding this important issue,
and working to identify the ways that each of us can best work together to help defend
the constitutional rights of children.
On June 3, the Houston Chronicle published Part One of an article by Ms. Olivia
Tallet highlighting the heartbreaking story of a Houston mother and father and their
three children. The reporter found that Mr. Juan Rodriguez came to the United States
and sought asylum almost two decades ago as a refugee to escape the political
violence of his native country of El Salvador. While his claim for asylum purportedly
made its way through the maze of the federal bureaucracy, he and his wife, a U.S.
citizen, built a life in Houston, raising three children, all born in the United States.
According to the article, the immigration enforcement system now seeks to deport the
family breadwinner because he is “not a priority for this country anymore.” In the
meantime, Mrs. Rodriguez and the Rodriguez children, all U.S. citizens, face the
prospect of an uncertain future.
Unfortunately, these stories are becoming more common in Houston and across
the country and HisBA is concerned that more members of the Hispanic community will
suffer devastating family break-ups as a result of an immigration policy and enforcement
action untempered by moral prudence. HisBA denounces any action to deport parents
from their U.S. born children under the pretext of border security and immigration
enforcement where the parent to be deported has committed no serious crime in the
United States. “Such inconsistent and immoral actions tear at the fabric of this great
land and of the loving and religious culture of immigrant families throughout the history
of the United States,” says HisBA Advisory Board member and former Texas Supreme
Court Justice David M. Medina. “The family unit in the Hispanic and many other cultures
personifies the story of the Holy Family in the Bible and serves as the bedrock for
values embodied in the story of America. Separating children from their parents
deprives our nation’s children of their inalienable and legal rights to be with their own
family. That is wrong. Our nation can and should do better,” says HisBA Board member
and former HisBA President Juan F. Vasquez, Jr.

HisBA calls upon members of the legal profession who represent individuals
impacted by similar immigration enforcement actions and all citizens to identify stories
within their own communities that are similar to that of the Houston family highlighted in
the Houston Chronicle article. HisBA requests that these stories be sent to
HisBA is also exploring the possibility of collaborating with other organizations to
advance and vindicate the rights of these citizen-children to keep their families together.
It took fifty eight (58) years for the unsustainable and immoral decision of Plessy
v. Ferguson (1896) to eventually give way to the more humane and principled Brown v.
Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the “separate but equal”
doctrine was exposed for its unconstitutional foundation. Similarly, in the landmark case
of Hernandez v. State of Texas (1954) decided in the same term, the U.S. Supreme
Court held for the first time that persons of Mexican descent were entitled to the same
equal protection under the law as all citizens. The full measure of civil rights guaranteed
by the U.S. Constitution to U.S. born children will be vindicated through the vision and
passion of members from the legal profession. HisBA resolves to help lead the way.
About the Hispanic Bar Association of Houston.

Since its founding in 1988, HisBA has been working for the advancement of
Hispanics in the legal profession, serving the public interest, promoting high standards
of integrity, honor, and professional courtesy among lawyers, and working with the other
bar associations and community, legal and governmental organizations in furtherance of
its mission and goals. Among our core values, HisBA is committed to:

i. addressing legal, educational, and legislative issues which impact the
Hispanic community; and
ii. promoting reform in the law and fairness in the treatment of Hispanics in the
overall administration of justice.

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