HALTOM CITY, Texas (AP) — Immigration advocates have said they’re disturbed that a North Texas city manager called police on their group for gathering outside his office.
United Fort Worth members visited Haltom City Manager Keith Lane’s office this month to express concerns about federal program 287(g), in which law enforcement agencies voluntarily cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Lane told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the group approached him with an open records request concerning the program. He said that a member of the group repeatedly held a sign close to his face.
“About every 30 seconds, he would stick the sign in my face,” Lane said.
Lane said he called police to escort the group from City Hall because they were causing a disturbance.
United Fort Worth members talked to a police officer in the parking lot without incident.
Activist Andres Pacheco said he felt threatened by the city manager’s actions.
“I thought at some point that I may get arrested because the city manager didn’t like what I told him,” Pacheco said. “I was exercising my right to free speech and my right to speak to a city official.”
Mindia Whittier, a United Fort Worth member who visited Lane’s office, said it’s concerning that the city manager didn’t ask how he could help the group or schedule an appointment to discuss the issue.
“His immediate reaction was, ‘Stop threatening me, and if you don’t leave now you’ll be arrested.’ What was so odd was that it escalated so quickly,” she said.
The group’s visit to Haltom City was part of a joint effort with other organizations to deliver open record requests to a dozen cities in Tarrant County. United Fort Worth members said they’re seeking information from Haltom City about the June 3 arrest of Maria Molina, who they said is a domestic violence victim who was seeking asylum.
Information from: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, http://www.star-telegram.com