Gov. Abbott fields concerns from N. Texas pastors
May 23rd, 2018 / By: Tammi Reed Ledbetter | Special Assignments Editor / comments
MESQUITE Texas Governor Greg Abbott met with close to 40 African American and Hispanic pastors from North Texas May 10 at a Pastors Roundtable at Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church, answering questions from faith leaders about the challenges facing their congregations and communities.
Host pastor Terry Turner told Abbott, “Each of these men who surround you today are men who love the Lord and are leaders in our communities from Fort Worth to Mesquite.”
“It is time for all of us to come together to unite and support each other and live up to God’s commandments and make Texas the best state it can possibly be,” Abbott told the group. “We as a community have to come together and find ways we can build stronger values.”
Abbott described strategies he had championed as governor, including economic opportunity zones and job growth. “We need to spread economic opportunity across the entire state of Texas,” he stated.
Questions from pastors addressed pre-K education, disaster relief funding, assistance for people who have been incarcerated, care for adults with special needs and enforcement of SB4, the sanctuary cities law passed in 2017.
“You’ve got to learn to read before you can read to learn,” Abbott said, stressing the importance of early childhood education to advance a statewide goal of students reading at grade level by third grade. He asked pastors to offer advice on the best strategies to keep at-risk students engaged in school so that they are “succeeding and on the pathway to getting a job.”
Regarding funding for the area affected by Hurricane Harvey, Abbott said Texas had received additional money for hazard mitigation projects and community development block grants.
He countered concerns about the enforcement of SB4 which allows police to question the immigration status of anyone they detain or arrest. “If you’re here following the laws, you have nothing to worry about,” Abbott stated. He asserted that SB4 was aimed at situations like Travis County’s release of formerly convicted violent criminals.
For individuals transitioning out of prison, Abbott said, “One strategy we are working on is to assist them in getting a job by purging their criminal record or allowing them to conceal information depending on what the crime is.” Records involving violent crimes would not qualify, he added.
After the meeting, Turner said, “I look forward to fostering an even stronger bond between our governor and our community leaders.”