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Houstonian Corner (V9-I11)

Concerns Growing In City’s Wi-Fi Debate

One Houston councilman is concerned about potential costs for consumers in the city’s proposed Wi-Fi service. Most on city council are satisfied with what they have seen from Earthlink, including Micahel Berry, who chairs the council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, and Aviation Committee. Berry, who is also the morning host of a Radio Talk Show, says, “I think it’s going to be good for Houston’s business community. I think it’s going to be good for the consumers, and I think it’s going to be good for public safety.” Berry’s comments come amid concern raised by District E’s Addie Wiseman, worried that no maximum is set on how much money the city might spend per year on the network. Berry says no public money is being spent on the project. While the Council has approved dealing with Earthlink, it will have to vote again to put any contract in to effect.

Friendswood Voters Get No Choice On “English Only”

Friendswood voters will not cast ballots for or against English being the official language of their city. A city charter amendment died last night when the Friendswood City Council voted 5-2 not to put it on the May ballot. City Councilman John LeCour supported the measure which he says took a lot of unnecessary heat. “I just didn’t appreciate the slander against Friendswood, because we are not a racist community,” LeCour told the media. The issue arose last fall when a Friendswood resident complained about a city worker not being able to speak English. Since then, Friendswood city policy has changed to require English proficiency for city employees and resident Mike Ruiz says that should be enough, because, “I don’t want my tax dollars spent on millions of dollars of litigation.” Ruiz told the media that he believed the issue would be end up in the courts. Frank Ortiz told the council members, who continued pushing for a charter amendment that Spanish-speakers want to learn English “just take a look at the long lines of English classes.” Ortiz lobbied hard to defeat the measure introduced by Chris Peden and seconded by LeCour.

Human Rights Groups Call for Closure of Texas Jail Holding Undocumented Immigrants

Human rights groups are calling for the U.S. government to shut down a jail in Texas, where about 200 immigrant children, some only infants, are being detained. Ten months ago the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began holding families in The Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas, owned by the private prison company, Corrections Corporations of America. Many of the families held at the facility are seeking asylum in the United States. For months immigration officials refused to allow outside groups or the media into the center. But late last year researchers from the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service were allowed inside.

The two groups have just released a report titled “Locking Up Family Values: The Detention of Immigrant Families.” Michelle Brane is co-author of the report. She is the director of the detention and asylum program at the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children. Another author is New York Immigration Attorney Joshua Bardavid, who earlier last week, filed a habeas petition on behalf of five members of a Palestinian family being held in another immigration prison in Texas.

Canadian Politicians Call for Release of Boy Held in Texas Jail

Opposition parties in Canada are demanding the conservative government pressure US authorities to release a nine-year-old Canadian boy held at an immigration jail in Texas. The boy, whose first name is Kevin, has been held at the Hutto jail in Texas for the past month along with his Iranian parents. Kevin speaking from the jail said: “I want to be free. I want to go outside, and I want to go to school. I want to be in my homeland: Canada.” The U.S. government is currently holding as many 200 children at the immigration jail in Taylor Texas.


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