Despite assurance from federal immigration enforcement authorities, illegal immigrants are afraid to come out in open to take shelter and food in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Illegal immigrants are the worst affected of all victims of the hurricane that has hit Houston and other parts of Texas. The storm comes amidst the new crack downs by the federal authorities that started only a few days before the natural calamity.
According to a community organizer with United We Dream in Houston, Oscar Hernandez, several illegal immigrants are shrinking from taking help out of fear of prosecution, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
This fear is prevalent in spite of the fact that the immigration authorities have affirmed that victims will not be identified on the basis of their immigration status.
In a joint statement by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the immigration enforcement authorities have assured that they would not identify people on the basis of their legal immigration status
“In light of Hurricane Harvey, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) highest priorities are to promote life-saving and life-sustaining activities, the safe evacuation of people who are leaving the impacted area, the maintenance of public order, the prevention of the loss of property to the extent possible, and the speedy recovery of the region,” the statement read.
It added, “Routine non-criminal immigration enforcement operations will not be conducted at evacuation sites, or assistance centers such as shelters or food banks.”
Reportedly, the residents are also worried about the shortage of workers in the absence of undocumented workers.
“Things are really piling up for the immigrant community in Texas in a bad way,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said. “It’s hard to tell exactly how many people are going to be displaced, but I think already the Houston workforce is so immigrant-driven, that to rebuild the city of Houston is going to need the contributions of everybody.”