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Attendees Respond to Panel Discussion on Undocumented Immigrants in Houston

We recently reported on a panel discussion called Undocumented City about the issues surrounding the undocumented immigrants who live in the Houston area.  Following the event which was presented by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University and the Houston Immigration and Legal Services Collaborative, I spoke with a few of the evening’s attendees.

Alice McCarthy, a former building contractor, attended the event with her friends Carol Brooks, Wanda Wright, and Gwen Blake.  After the event, I asked McCarthy what she thought about the topics that had been discussed by the panel.  She said:

“This is an issue that we have kicked around for decades.  We have absolutely got to do something about it.  I have gone to a number of these sorts of things.  I used to be a building contractor, and I saw some of the really evil things that happen to immigrants, so I want to do something about it.  It is just not right, and it is stupid not to deal with it.”  She said that she thought that the evening had been helpful in spreading information about the issue.

Her friend Gwen Blake added “She is absolutely right, and I support what she stated.  I mean, all of our lives we are touched by people who are in this situation and we haven’t been able to motivate ourselves to action.”

I then caught up with Jack Hernandez, a counselor and professor at Lone Star College - Victory Center, who was discussing the event with his sister.  He told me that at the community college where he teaches, many of the students are DACA students.  He said that he sees students who are great students and have great report cards.  He said:

“I wonder about their futures when they finish up at our community college: where are they going – are they going to be able to go to the university?  They surely have the grades, and the dreams, and the aspirations.  I wonder about when they do finish up at the university – will they have employment?  … I worry about that, and it is a tough call.

“I wish I had the answers to tell them ‘It’s going to be OK’, but I don’t know – there is a lot of uncertainty there.  I fear that, and I feel bad about that.  I hope for the best, and I try to encourage them to stay in education … I think it is going to pay off in the end.  I think the answer is going to materialize their way and for their families.  This [event] kind of confirms that there is a lot behind the scenes.”

You can listen to my interviews in the 2-minute video below.