Friday, September 23, 2005
Undocumented Immigrants Trust Bush Administration; and get deported.
September 21, 2005
El Paso Times
A handful of undocumented immigrants who fled Hurricane Katrina have been ordered to appear for deportation hearings after heeding the Bush administration's call to seek help regardless of immigration status.
Three of them had found refuge at the Judson F. Williams Convention Center in
El Paso, along with more than 600 other evacuees who made their way to the
city. The men, two Guatemalans and one Filipino, had planned to leave El Paso by
bus to be reunited with family members, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
"They were concerned that they would be arrested and detained at the Border
Patrol checkpoint, which was likely to happen," ICE spokeswoman Leticia
The migrants spoke to a non-governmental rescue agency at the convention
center about their fears and the agency made an appointment for them at the ICE
office. (Editor's note; This basically means that some rescue agency reported them as undocumented, and the government then issued them a notice to appear in deportation proceedings.)
The men, who have no criminal records, were released after being told to
appear in court, where a judge will decide whether they will be deported.
Immigration lawyer Ouisa Davis, who represents one of the men, said her
client was in the United States "for five years. He'd been sending money to his
Other evacuees who found hospitality in El Paso said they weren't shocked to
hear undocumented immigrants were victims of the hurricane as well.
"They're everywhere. I mean, I knew a lot of Hondurans in New Orleans," said
Terry Lopez, who is staying with her mother in El Paso.
After Katrina, the Homeland Security Department encouraged all storm victims,
including undocumented immigrants, to seek help. The appeal was made in
English and Spanish.
The agency did not say that information on immigration status would be
withheld from law enforcement agencies -- a protection extended after the Sept. 11
terror attacks. Senate Democrats have been pressing for such protection.
In the days after the hurricane, Mexican President Vicente Fox made a
televised appeal, also in English and Spanish, urging Mexican nationals affected by the storm to seek help. He said U.S. authorities had assured his government
that "those who were not documented at the time will not be subject to any
pressure or persecution whatsoever."
Tuesday, representatives of Latin American and Caribbean communities appealed
to the White House to give undocumented immigrants affected by Katrina
"protected humanitarian status."