ICE Statement of Priorities as Hurricane Alex Approached South Texas
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued the following statement on June 29, 2010, asking nonprofit agencies for assistance in getting it distributed.
Most of the statement is identical to one issued late in the 2008 hurricane season in response to concerns expressed by advocates and grassroots groups. However, this new statement offers additional clarification regarding the protection and transfer of immigrants already in detention.
In June 2009, over 200 organizations wrote a letter (PDF) calling on the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue a standing written policy clarifying that immigration enforcement will not be undertaken in association with disaster preparedness, response, or recovery. DHS has yet to offer any substantive response to that letter, let alone heed its call, thereby necessitating the issuance of statements such as these on an ad-hoc, disaster by disaster basis.
Please share this statement with organizations and affected individuals within your region:
In the event of an emergency — such as a hurricane — and the need for an officially ordered evacuation, ICE's highest priorities are the safe evacuation of people who are leaving the danger zone, engagement in life-saving and life-sustaining activities, maintenance of public order, prevention of the loss of property to the extent possible, and assistance with the speedy recovery of the region. There will be no ICE immigration enforcement operations associated with evacuations and sheltering. The Department's law enforcement components will be at the ready to help anyone in need of assistance. Obviously, the laws will not be suspended, but in the event of an evacuation, we want to make sure that we can help local authorities move traffic out of the danger zone quickly, safely, and efficiently. ICE seeks to provide for the safety and security of those in our custody and to protect them from bodily harm in the event that a hurricane or a major destructive storm is forecasted. Should the need arise, ICE will transfer detainees from affected detention facilities. In the event of a transfer, the detainee's attorney of record will be notified and the transfer will be temporary in nature.
Chief, Public Engagement Liaison
Office of State and Local Coordination
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Department of Homeland Security