Immigration central issue in mayoral race
By Mark Collette
The Daily News
Published June 8, 2008
LEAGUE CITY — “Sanctuary” is the latest buzz word in League City, where the immigration debate has infused the final week of the mayoral runoff campaigns.
But a flood of letters to the editor in favor of Toni Randall or Chris Mallios shows not everyone agrees on what a sanctuary city is or what it means to support or oppose one.
In a telephone interview, Mallios said one of his first acts as mayor would be creating an ordinance authorizing police to check a person’s immigration status and to refer them to federal authorities if they’re already under investigation for a separate offense. It would not allow police to selectively choose who would be subject to immigration checks, he said.
Randall said she doesn’t favor such an ordinance because she worries it would lead to civil rights infractions and expose the city to lawsuits.
“A lot of people say, ‘They’re here in this country illegally, so they’re already breaking the law,’ and I agree with that,” Randall said. “However, I don’t know how far you can push the envelope before it comes back and hurts the city financially.”
She said the federal government must stop illegal immigration at the border before municipalities can reasonably be expected to address the problem.
But Mallios doesn’t want to wait.
“It has to start somewhere,” he said. “If we all say, ‘Oh, it’s a federal problem, oh, it’s these people’s problem’ — we can point fingers all day long. But somebody needs to take a stand and say enough is enough, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with this ordinance ... League City will lead in Galveston County.”
Randall said asking a person about their immigration status is tantamount to racial profiling.
Mallios, active in the Democratic party, may be bolstering his credentials among League City’s strong conservative base with tough talk on immigration, but he says it has nothing to do with bridging any gaps with the GOP.
“Some people want to term it a Democratic or Republican issue,” he said. “That’s not the case ... They’re trying to give you the perception of dividing our city once again.”
Randall said Mallios’ political activities — including contributions to blogs, an Internet radio show and, at council meetings, reciting poems about problems in the city — could make it hard to be effective as mayor because he’s already clashing with council members.
“He’ll be behind the eight ball from the get-go,” Randall said. “I don’t feel as though I will be.”
Mallios said he wouldn’t shut out other council members.
“They are elected just like I am elected by the citizens, and they have a right to speak for the citizens, and I would be remiss in my duty ... if I did not work with them,” he said.
Mallios, who most recently listed his occupation as a caregiver, said his 25 years of involvement in city affairs and his work in the county parks department gives him the experience needed to lead.
Randall said her ownership of a hardware store that has grown and retained employees for 20 years despite an influx of large retailers proves her effectiveness.
She said her first priorities as mayor would include bringing consensus back to the city council and giving residents better notice of what large-scale developers are doing.
“We need to go into the surrounding community and make contact with these people face-to-face,” she said.
Topping Mallios’ to-do list are the immigration ordinance, pushing plans for an FM 270 bypass and a bridge on Palomino Road and an ethics reform ordinance for elected officials.
Both candidates have vowed to make public information more forthcoming from city hall.
Saturday’s League City mayoral runoff
Monday and Tuesday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Johnnie Arolfo Civic Center, 400 W. Walker St.
Polls on Saturday are open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at these locations:
• Precinct 1 — Fire Station No. 4, 175 Bay Area Blvd.
• Precinct 2 — Old Fire Station No. 2, 411 Newport Blvd.
• Precinct 3 — Johnnie Arolfo Civic Center, 400 W. Walker St.
• Precinct 4 — Fire Station No. 1, 601 Second St.
• Precinct 5 — Ferguson Elementary School, 1910 S. Compass Rose Blvd., South Shore Harbour.