Defying racists, group welcomes refugees

When some young Houston activists discovered that a racist, anti-immigrant group called Stop the Magnet was going to be on a pedestrian bridge over a busy freeway again, the Women and Children Welcoming Committee was formed.

We showed up at 6 a.m. the next day, one hour before they were to appear, and took up the best spots for traffic to see our colorful signs welcoming any unaccompanied minors to Houston.

Two racists came at 7 a.m. with a black banner 20 feet long containing one word painted in white letters: DEPORT. When it was reported to the police that the banner poles were in violation of a city ordinance, the group spent the next 30 minutes dismantling the poles from the banner. Police, traffic and media helicopters were flying overhead.

Around 8 a.m., more racists arrived and another banner went up reading, “Illegal aliens are killing America’s future.”

Around 9 a.m., we heard that armed racists were on the way. Only two got onto the walkway, carrying big guns, but it was a bit intimidating because at about the same time, the slew of cops who had been there for hours seemed to disappear. Ironically, one of the men carrying a gun was wearing a kilt, so it was likely that at some point he or his family were immigrants from Scotland. Yet he had a big sign reading, “Secure our border.”

Most of the morning we outnumbered the anti-immigrant folks and did get a lot of attention for our signs. A little after the noon hour, the overheated crowd began to dwindle and eventually everyone went home.

The day before these open racists met us over the freeway, the city councils of Galveston and League City, both south of Houston, had passed resolutions that they would refuse any federal directives to process or house undocumented immigrants.

The demographics of Texas are changing and the state now has a majority people of color, with Latinos/as and African Americans together making up over 50 percent. These racist bigots may be breathing their last breaths, as they are not only uninformed but outnumbered.