Temporary relaxed approach to enforcing Immigration law in areas impacted by Hurricane Irma

The US Department of Homeland Security has issued a recent statement that DHS ‘will not conduct non-criminal immigration enforcement operations in the affected area – that is areas impacted by IRMA. This is according to a press release issued by the DHS earlier this month. The statement made it clear ahead of the hurricane impacting the US that the key focus was ‘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.’ It went on to state that immigration laws of course will not be suspended, but when it comes to rescuing persons immigration status will not be a factor.

The release stated ahead of the storm that:

‘The Department’s law enforcement components will be at the ready to help anyone in need of assistance. 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. At the request of FEMA, local and state authorities, 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. However, the laws will not be suspended, and we will be vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.

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. As such, ICE detainees from the Krome Detention Center, Monroe County Jail, Broward Transitional Center, and Glades Detention Center are being temporarily transferred to various other detention facilities outside the projected path of the hurricane. In the event of transfers, the detainee’s attorney of record is notified, the Online Detainer Locator is updated, and the transfer is temporary in nature.’