These Volunteers Want People To Know: If You’re Undocumented, You Can Still Get Harvey Aid

Our daily roundup of headlines from across the state.

By Becky FogelSeptember 4, 2017 12:06 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Immigration attorneys and advocates are concerned that some Houston immigrants won’t seek aid in the aftermath of Harvey.

About a quarter of the city’s population was born outside of the United States, and a third of that number is undocumented.  So lawyers have been working at the NRG Center – one of the three largest shelters for Harvey evacuees.

Kate Vickery is executive director of Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative.

“If you’re undocumented completely and you don’t have a U.S. citizen child who’s under the age of 18, you are not eligible for any type of FEMA relief,” she says.

But Vickery told K-E-R-A North Texas that she and others are trying to make sure that individuals who are undocumented can receive help from other sources.

She says parents who have a U.S.-born child can apply for aid from FEMA, but she worries many won’t.

“We know that people are less inclined to apply for certain public benefits because of this kind of culture of fear around immigration enforcement and the federal government – this year especially,” Vickery says.

At their table inside the NRG shelter, Vickery and her colleagues have posted signs in numerous languages, like Bengali and Cantonese, Urdu and Portuguese.

They want to make sure no one is deterred from asking them for help.

Gov. Greg Abbott estimates that Texas will need between $150 to $180 billion in federal funds to rebuild after Harvey – far exceeding the cost of Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.

“The population size and the geographic size is far larger than Katrina and I think, Sandy combined,” Gov. Abbott told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “We have over five million people who are affected by this. It’s not just the flooding in Houston – it’s the hurricane swath all the way from Corpus Christi over to Beaumont.”

For comparison, Abbott noted Katrina cost the federal government about $120 billion.

President Donald Trump has asked Congress for nearly $8 billion for Hurricane Harvey aid.  Abbott added the president and congress are making it clear that this amount is just a down payment on more funding.

The Houston Astros swept the New York Mets in their first series of home games since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast.

During Saturday’s first game, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner threw out the  first pitch. First responders were also recognized, and a moment of silence was held for the victims of the storm.

Nancy Leong and her family were at the game. They live 22 miles south of Houston and she said parts of her neighborhood were hit really hard.

“Some of our neighbors lost cars, homes, and so we’re here to support the city, raise the spirits of the city, make sure that Houston knows you’re not alone in this,” Leong says. “We’re a community, and we’re going to stand together and take care of each other.”

The Houston Astros lead in the American League West – and with these wins, they’re now 13 games ahead in the division.