The stage at the Houston Police Officers' Union was literally set for a big announcement today. Microphones had been hooked up, chairs for the media had been arranged in rows and press releases had been e-mailed all across town. Everyone was eager to hear all about a lawsuit that a Washington, D.C.-based public interest group was filing to put an end to Houston's alleged and so-called "illegal alien sanctuary policy."
The news conference got off to a rocky start. Except for a small handful of reporters and "concerned" citizens, the auditorium was empty. Union president Gary Blankenship, who was scheduled to speak, was nowhere in sight. And a man in a black suit with wild hair was pacing furiously outside jabbering on a cell phone.
After a half-hour delay, the man in the dark suit entered the hall. It was Thomas Fritton, president of the group Judicial Watch, who had made the trek all the way from D.C. Without ceremony, he apologetically canceled the event, leaving the media with the equivalent of news conference blue balls.
Fritton would not give specifics on why the announcement was a no-go, citing only "various reasons." When pressed, he declined to elaborate before being whisked away by what were presumably urgent matters.
His last comment to Hair Balls was that he hopes the filing of the lawsuit is a matter of "when and not if."
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Hair Balls tried calling Blankenship shortly after the announcement was canceled to find out what had gone wrong, but he was not available.
Blankenship, however, does have piece in this month's union newspaper, Badge & Gun, urging the city and state to allow police to be more active reporting undocumented immigrants to federal immigration authorities.
In his column, Blankenship calls on the city to amend or repeal an HPD internal order that he says states that "officers shall not inquire as to the citizenship status of any person, nor will officers detain or arrest any persons solely on the belief that they are in this country illegally." He also asks for the Mayor and city leadership to support a program allowing HPD officers to train and work with federal immigration agents.
As for any lawsuit, your guess is as good as ours after today's non-event