What Undocumented Immigrants Need to Know About Hurricane Harvey

Our hearts go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. We feel for our neighbors, mourning their losses and praying for relief and healing from this disaster. In this time of need, we are here to help in any way we can.


Among the victims of this disaster, we know there were many who have not only been worried about the storm but have also been worried about their rescue. Undocumented immigrants have had the added fear about what would happen if they were rescued and discovered. Will they or family members be arrested and deported? They have also been plagued by the fear that the recovery and relief resources that will be available to Americans will not be available to them.


News articles published several days ago compounded these fears. For example, the Quartz reported that the Trump administration would check people’s papers as they evacuated from the hurricane.


Thankfully, we have now received news that undocumented immigrants do not need to worry about their status during rescue or while receiving aid. Undocumented immigrants who seek shelter from Harvey’s devastation don’t have to worry about ICE agents picking them. U.S. immigration officials, FEMA and the city of Houston have all stated that everyone can get immediate help, regardless of immigration status. According to FEMA, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have stated that it is not conducting immigration enforcement at relief sites such as shelters or food banks.” It adds that most shelters are managed by local communities and the Red Cross. “The Red Cross will not ask people to show any form of identification in order to stay in their shelters.” Likewise, the city of Houston said on Twitter, “We will not ask for immigration status or papers from anyone at any shelter. This rumor is FALSE!”


This Red Cross resource page provides information for Harvey victims in need of help, and it also provides information about how the rest of us can volunteer: http://www.redcross.org/local/texas/gulf-coast/disaster-response.


Our office thanks Mexico for offering to help the victims of Harvey, as it has helped with other U.S. disasters in the past, such as Katrina. While President Trump tweeted about Mexico paying for the border wall on Sunday (an assertion which the Mexican Foreign Ministry immediately refuted in a tweeted response), Mexico reaffirmed its offer of aid to Texas Governor, Gregg Abbott. It is unclear if the U.S. will accept Mexico’s offer of help. It is our position that the victims of the disaster come first; previously drawn lines in the sand must be erased on behalf of the citizens our government is charged to protect. During Katrina, Mexico provided wonderful help,  sending soldiers, medical personnel, engineers, as well as drinking water and food to citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi. “By the end of their three-week operation in Louisiana and Mississippi, the Mexicans had served 170,000 meals, helped distribute more than 184,000 tons of supplies and conducted more than 500 medical consultations,” a Washington Post report detailed on Monday. Our hurting neighbors need this kind of help, and our leaders need to step up and be grateful for the offer.


If you have additional questions or concerns about getting disaster relief help for yourself or your loved ones, please contact our office. No one should ever have to worry about the consequences of being rescued or getting help during a disaster.. When the time is right, our expert staff is here to help make sure that you never have to fear the consequences of being born somewhere else. We are here to help you permanently remove these fears.

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