The County Connection
Lina Hidalgo | Harris County Judge

 December 2023

On December 18th, Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill (SB) 4 into law. SB 4 makes unauthorized entry into Texas a state crime and authorizes state and local law enforcement officials to arrest individuals deemed to be in violation of the law. In practice, SB 4 will allow judges across the entire state of Texas to deport people, even if they are here seeking asylum. SB 4 empowers police officers to detain immigrants for deportation, pulling resources away from what should be their priority — fighting violent crime. SB 4 is in direct violation of the U.S. constitution and the federal government’s constitutional authority over immigration law.

Our community – and our nation – needs immigrants. In Texas, we have 1.6 million undocumented immigrants who have built lives here in the U.S., have families here, and pay $2.6 billion in federal taxes every year.

SB 4 will make our communities less safe. Once the law goes into effect on March 5, immigrants who are victims of crime will feel like they can’t call the police because the police are now in charge of enforcing immigration law. If people are more scared to report crimes, no matter who that person is, that poses a threat to our public safety.

Not to mention that our jail system is already at the breaking point. Even if only 1% of Harris County’s current undocumented population were to be detained in the county jail system, it would cost the County $500,000 a day. This burden will ultimately fall on Harris County taxpayers.

Earlier this month, I led other Texan County Judges in writing a letter to the Biden Administration requesting that the federal government take action to prevent this law from taking effect. Harris County renewed our Immigrant Legal Services Fund, which helps immigrants who can’t afford their own lawyer to access legal representation. And on December 19th, Commissioners Court approved the first-ever county-funded Immigrant Resource Hotline, which will be available in mid-January and will help connect callers with legal information and free social services.

We will continue to push back against the damage this will do to our security, our economy, and all of the undocumented residents of Harris County that are here to build a life.

Playing with people’s lives just to make a political point is very cynical and it shows what our state leaders are really interested in with this law. If they truly want to pass meaningful immigration reform and make our border safer, let’s have a meeting, let’s work with our federal partners on this, and work out some real solutions.


Lina Hidalgo

County News


Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Discusses Conflict with Israeli and Palestinian/Arab – American Leaders

Judge Hidalgo speaks with leaders from the Palestinian and Arab-American and Israeli communities in Harris County on November 20th, 2023.
In November, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo met with Israeli and Palestinian/Arab-American leaders to discuss the conflict in Gaza and how it is affecting their communities here in Harris County. As part of her official statement on the conflict, Judge Hidalgo said:

“Harris County is more than 7,000 miles from Gaza. There is very little that anyone in Harris County, myself included, can do to solve this conflict. But based on what I heard from both communities, there is a path forward – beyond the black and white one-liners – for understanding, respect, and conversation as we push for peace in the region. There is a path forward for these communities to continue to coexist and thrive in Harris County, and hopefully everywhere in the world.”

You can read Judge Hidalgo’s full statement here.

To further support communities impacted by the conflict, Judge Hidalgo announced that in partnership with The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, Harris County created an emotional support line for members of our community who have been impacted by the conflict in Gaza and Israel.

The Emotional Support Line for the Conflict in Gaza and Israel is available 24/7 with phone counselors who can provide non-judgmental, empathetic listening and support with translation service available in over 150 languages, including Spanish. Anyone in Harris County can call the phone number 1-833-812-2481 to receive these services.


Working For Our Communities

Judge Hidalgo introduces Vice President Kamala Harris during a moderated conversation with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on November 27th, 2023.
In November, Judge Hidalgo was honored to welcome Vice President Kamala Harris and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), who were visiting as part of the CHC’s On The Road initiative. Judge Hidalgo had the opportunity to spotlight the work Harris County is doing to support Hispanic communities, with support from the Biden-Harris Administration and the American Rescue Plan. These investments in all communities, including our Hispanic community include:

  • $22 million for healthcare access investments, including $6 million for targeted focus on prevention of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease that disproportionately impact the Hispanic community.
  • $6.4 million for immigration legal services, to help immigrants access legal representation on matters ranging from naturalization to defense against eviction.
  • $114 million to make more single and multi-family affordable housing available, to help address our affordable housing crisis.
  • $40 million for wastewater investments in East Aldine, a majority-Hispanic community, in areas with high rates of septic system failure.
  • $8 million to address food insecurity, including creating new community assets to support the Finca Tres Robles urban farm in the East End.
  • $23 million for mental health investments, including new capabilities like offering counseling through the new UH medical school in the East End.
  • $20 million for lead abatement and screening, which often impacts majority-Hispanic communities.
  • $141 million to make our community safer, including new initiatives like the Teledeputy initiative to reduce law enforcement response times.
  • $31.6 million total into apprenticeships and workforce development in fast-growing fields like construction and IT. The majority of the students who have participated in apprenticeship pilot programs so far are students of color.
  • $26 million in Early REACH dedicated to innovative child care programming, serving a majority of Hispanic/Latino families. For the first time ever, this investment removes immigration status-based barriers to accessing child care.
  • And more!

A video of the discussion with the Vice President is available here. In Harris County, and with the assistance of the Biden-Harris Administration, we will continue investing in our community.


Harris County Leaders Formally Apologize to Descendants of Black Soldiers Wrongfully Convicted and Executed in 1917 Camp Logan Riots

In the summer of 1917, the members of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry, one of four Buffalo Soldier regiments, were deployed to the Houston region to guard the construction of the Camp Logan training site, located in what is today Memorial Park. The soldiers stationed at Camp Logan endured severe racist harassment and violence from White residents, Houston police officers, and fellow members of the military. Tensions from the ongoing violence and harassment boiled over on August 23, 1917 when a Black soldier and a military police officer were beaten while in defense of a Black woman. Frustration and fear escalated among the soldiers as reports of the violent police assaults spread throughout the camp along with rumors of an approaching mob. More than 100 soldiers began a march and a violent confrontation ensued. By nightfall 21 people were killed, including 11 civilians.

In response to the violence and deaths, the United States Military charged 118 soldiers with disobedience, murder, and mutiny in what became the largest court martial trial in American history. The 118 soldiers faced all-White courts-martial composed of high-ranking military officials, and were all represented by one military officer who was not an attorney. 110 of 118 soldiers were convicted with sentences ranging from several years in prison, to life imprisonment, to death. 13 of the condemned men were secretly hanged without the ability to appeal their convictions as part of the largest mass execution in U.S. history at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. Six more soldiers were executed in 1918.

In 2016, the Houston NAACP petitioned for clemency for the soldiers, which was granted this November. On December 5th, Harris County Commissioners Court presented a resolution on behalf of our region formally apologizing to the families of all the soldiers who were killed, beaten, harassed, unfairly convicted, and denied their rights to due process and equal protection under the law while serving our country in Harris County. Harris County Commissioners Court remains committed to standing against the scourge of racism wherever it still exists.


Harris County Approves SHINE Facilities Fund to Improve Early Childhood Learning Spaces

Judge Hidalgo visits the YMCA Children’s Academy at the Texas Medical Center on June 5th, 2023.
In Harris County, child care providers often have trouble raising funds to improve their facilities or expand their spaces to accommodate all of the families who need child care in their areas. And when facilities are old or in need of repairs, that has an impact on children’s safety and ability to learn. Some facilities are capable of serving more children but are limited to their small spaces, meaning families are turned away and they might not be able to access high-quality child care at all. Currently, there are few funding avenues available to help child care providers make physical improvements to their facilities.

That’s why on December 5th Commissioners Court approved $35 million of federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for the Supportive, Healthy, Innovative, Nurturing Environments (SHINE) initiative. Through a competitive RFP process, the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), a community development financial institution that provides financial products and services to businesses located in underserved markets, was selected to serve as the SHINE vendor. LIIF will distribute grants (ranging from $5,000 to $900,000) to child care centers for the planning, renovation, repair, and/or expansion of child care facilities, and deliver technical assistance to ensure projects are on time and on budget, resulting in high-quality child care physical infrastructure.

By providing the funding that child care providers need in order to repair and expand their facilities, the SHINE initiative will add at least 3,800 new high-quality child care spaces and retain/create at least 600 jobs by investing into the physical infrastructure of child care facilities. Similar models of funding child care facilities have been effective in other jurisdictions like Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The SHINE initiative builds upon Harris County’s early childhood investments, including the Early REACH child care capacity expansion program, the Early Childhood Impact Fund for sustainable and scalable interventions, the Early Learning Quality Networks for community-driven child care initiatives, the County Connections summer enrichment program, and research efforts such as the RAPID Early Childhood Survey. For more information about the SHINE initiative, please contact the Harris County Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, Santrice Jones, at


Harris Health Bond Passes

On November 7th, Harris County residents overwhelmingly approved the $2.5 billion Harris Health bond. Learn what this means for the Harris Health System below:
We look forward to these much-needed improvements – you can read more about the Harris Health Bond here, and continue to watch this space for Harris Health Bond updates!

The Power of Apprenticeships in Harris County

The Commissioners Court presentation of a proclamation declaring Apprenticeship Week in Harris County on November 14th, 2023.
Apprenticeship programs help our economy and our workforce, and on a micro level, help people who are stuck working low-wage jobs without opportunities for growth. Harris County has invested $31.6 million into apprenticeships and workforce development in fast-growing fields like construction and IT, which are so crucial to the future. One of Harris County’s programs, Apprenticeship Advantage, was named as a “best practice” in workforce development by the White House. Students who have graduated from the programs see their salaries grow from $12,000 to an average of $62,000 a year, and over the next several years, it is estimated that Harris County’s programs will create about 1,000 jobs!

Harris County Sheriff’s Office Signs Agreement with Santa Maria Hostel for Re-entry Support

When offenders are done serving their sentences and are released from jail, they often have trouble finding a job, a place to live, and a support network to help them ease back into society. To fight against recidivism, homelessness, and substance abuse, Harris County has implemented the Women’s Reentry Program to assist the newly-released in getting back on their feet.

This November, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office partnered with the Santa Maria Hostel – Path to Recovery to provide re-entry support for addiction both before and after female offenders are released from jail. Santa Maria is Texas’ largest multi-site residential and outpatient substance use treatment center. Harris County will continue working to support past offenders in building a successful life for themselves in our community.


Harris County Office of Sustainability to Expand by Five Positions

Our world is at a tipping point right now when it comes to climate change, but we have a unique opportunity to make Harris County a leader in transitioning to clean energy. According to the County’s Climate Action Plan, our overarching goal is to slash greenhouse gas emissions in the county by 40% by the year 2030. To oversee this goal, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners  Court created the Office of Sustainability, and on October 31st, Commissioners Court approved the creation of five new positions. The office will help us achieve all the goals in our Climate Action Plan as well as pursue federal grant funding for our initiatives. The five positions fit within the existing budget allocation for the Office of Sustainability for Fiscal Year 2024, with an estimated cost of $576,624.

Upcoming Events


Upcoming Commissioners Court Meetings

As part of the County Judge’s Office initiative to make local government more transparent and accessible, we invite you to get involved by viewing Commissioners Court meetings. You can check here to see the meeting schedule, and watch the official close captioned livestream here or on the Judge’s homepage here.

Hazardous Waste Collection Appointments

Do you have unwanted household hazardous items? Properly dispose of them by making an appointment with the Household Hazardous Waste Collections facility at 6900 Hahl Road in Houston. Learn what items are accepted and make an appointment here.

About Judge Hidalgo

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is the head of Harris County’s governing body and Director of the Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Judge Hidalgo, alongside four County Precinct Commissioners, oversees a budget of approximately $5 billion that funds services and institutions for the third-largest county in the nation, home to nearly 5 million people.
For more information about Harris County and the Office of the County Judge, click here.