Tags: Department of Homeland Security | immigration enforcement | Hurricane Irma

BuzzFeed: DHS Broke Promise by Arresting Illegal Aliens During Irma

Image: BuzzFeed: DHS Broke Promise by Arresting Illegal Aliens During Irma

(John Shinkle/Politico)

By    |   Sunday, 03 December 2017 05:43 PM

The Department of Homeland Security did not keep its promise to temporarily halt non-criminal immigration enforcement as Hurricane Irma approached Florida in September so that people living in the United States illegally would not fear to seek help, BuzzFeed News reported on Sunday.

In a September 6 statement, the department pledged that "In evacuation or response, we are committed to making sure that we can assist local authorities quickly, safely, and efficiently. DHS will not conduct non-criminal immigration enforcement operations in the affected area."

It added that "DHS law enforcement personnel will be in the affected area to conduct search and rescue, air traffic de-confliction and public safety missions. When it comes to rescuing people in the wake of Hurricane Irma, immigration status is not and will not be a factor."

But Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials told BuzzFeed News that immigration enforcement and arrests did continue for four days after the promise until the hurricane actually struck the state on September 10.

CBP declined to give details on how many people were arrested during that period, but when asked why such actions continued after the promise to stop them, acting chief patrol agent of the Border Patrol's Miami sector Peter Daniel said that the department's September 6 statement did not specify when the directive should take effect.

During the time while the arrests were continuing despite the pledge, local authorities issued evacuation orders for much of the state, calling for more than six million residents to leave their homes and some 1,000 members of the National Guard were deployed to help prepare for the hurricane.

CBP's Miami sector chief John Modlin said that one of those arrested after police responded to a minor non-injury car accident, one of the documented incidents apparently contradicting the department's pledge, was found to have been convicted of illegally entering the U.S. twice after previously being deported, making the incident a criminal immigration case.

University of Denver Sturm College of Law Associate Prof. César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, explained to BuzzFeed that under the Trump administration "We have seen a loosening of definition of what constitutes illegal activity and a viable target for what are limited immigration enforcement activities," and that the term "criminal alien" now applies to virtually anyone suspected of being the U.S. illegally.

Adonia Simpson of the immigrant advocacy group Florida's Americans for Immigrant Justice, said that "Given the panic and fear that surrounded Irma's impending landfall, as well as Florida officials stressing the need to seek safety, we find it shameful that enforcement actions were undertaken on non-criminal immigrants after DHS's public statement to the contrary. Events such as these only compound the fear and lack of trust in the community."

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The Department of Homeland Security did not keep its promise to temporarily halt non-criminal immigration enforcement as Hurricane Irma approached Florida in September so that people living in the United States illegally would not fear to seek help, BuzzFeed News reported...
Department of Homeland Security, immigration enforcement, Hurricane Irma
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2017-43-03
Sunday, 03 December 2017 05:43 PM
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