ICE Officials Strand Dozens of Immigrants at Shut-Down Bus Depot During Hurricane Harvey

ICE Officials Strand Dozens of Immigrants at Shut-Down Bus Depot During Hurricane Harvey

Women and Children Left to Deal with Texas Mega Storm

Hurricane Harvey threatened to pummel southeast Texas Friday while Texans hunkered down. About 50 asylum-seeking immigrants, however, were left to face the storm alone at a closed bus depot. ICE officials were warned the day before by Democratic  Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-San Antonio) not to drop the families off at the San Antonio bus depot. Dogget said he was assured the women and children, fleeing Central-American gang violence, would be at the depot before it closed because of the storm. That, however, didn’t happen. Dogget was not amused.

“This is all really unacceptable, We need greatly improved communication and more attention to genuine humanitarian concerns.”

Sister Denise LaRock from the Interfaith Welcome Coalition, learned about the plight of the stranded families and jumped in to help. It turns out these travelers were already cleared by immigration and embarking on their new lives.

They’ve just gotten out of family detention centers and passed their credible fear interview so they were on their way to their families. We were told yesterday that no buses are running tomorrow, so Congressman Lloyd Doggett [D-San Antonio] called ICE to not drop families at the bus station.”

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The irony is that ICE officials along with the CPB (Customs and Border Protection) issued a joint statement. In it they outline their commitment to the safety of detainees.

“components will be at the ready to help anyone in need of assistance. In evacuation or response. ICE and CBP also seek to provide for the safety and security of those in our custody and to protect them from bodily harm in the event of a hurricane or a major destructive storm.”

Sister Denise and members of her organization,  reached out to city officials for help. About 150 displaced people,including the immigrants, were given shelter in a nearby church. The local Emergency Operations Center provided cots and a food bank brought in meals. Isabel Gonzalez,who traveled through 10 countries from Cuba to get to the US-Mexico border was separated from her family during the voyage. They’ve been reunited and Gonzalez says that’s all that matters.

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“We feel great here at the church now. I’m reunited with my kids and I can watch them play. It’s a different ambiance than the detention centers, where we felt incredibly uneasy.”

Congressman Doggett says that this slip-up should,hopefully, be a teachable moment. Immigration officials should focus on the humanitarian cost.

“It is important that immigrants not feel that evacuation from danger could result in deportation. I am hopeful that CBP is now following prior procedures so that checkpoints north of the border do not impede evacuations. The rule must be families’ safety first.”

 

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Bruno Moore is a 2 time Democratic candidate for Florida State Senate. With a background in broadcasting he became most well known for his signature style of traffic reporting in South Florida before getting into politics in 2012. Between them he and his wife Megan have 5 children.

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Bruno Moore is a 2 time Democratic candidate for Florida State Senate. With a background in broadcasting he became most well known for his signature style of traffic reporting in South Florida before getting into politics in 2012. Between them he and his wife Megan have 5 children.

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