Despite instructions from Democratic U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett to halt the transportation of recently released detainees in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey and “that all transport services were suspended ahead of the hurricane”- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stranded a busload of 50 women and children at a closed bus station in San Antonio directly into the path of the category 4 storm with nowhere to go and no resources such as money or cell phones.
As reported by Raw Story:
“Knowing that, they just dropped them off,” said Barbie Hurtado — a community organizer for RAICES, a nonprofit that provides legal aid to immigrant families. “These are women and children who have been released from family detention with no money, cell phones, and don’t speak English.”
When contacted for comment, ICE released a statement to Buzzfeed that said, “All of the aliens who were transferred to the San Antonio Greyhound bus station by ICE on Friday morning had confirmed tickets and itineraries to their destinations. Throughout the process, ICE remained in close contact with bus officials to ensure bus availability, and all aliens had confirmed bus transportation at the time at which ICE officers departed the station. Ultimately, ICE kept two additional families in custody since their bus trip had been cancelled.”
Conveniently, the spokesperson evaded answering whether or not buses were up and running upon dropping off the women and children. Whether or not ICE provided the families with tickets is irrelevant if there are no buses to redeem their tickets on.
Doggett told Buzzfeed that ICE assured him on Friday that no situation would occur where families were left stranded ahead of the unprecedented weather emergency.
“But for more than 50, it did,” Doggett said. “Especially during this natural disaster, all families deserve respect and safety. Fortunately, those who were left waiting with nothing were helped by the goodness of our neighbors and the leadership of the Interfaith Welcome Coalition. Most have now been able to depart.”
“This is all really unacceptable,” Doggett said to the Rivard Report. “We need greatly improved communication and more attention to genuine humanitarian concerns.”
A local church stepped in to take in the stranded families, many of whom are asylum-seekers from Central America.
“They were really tired and didn’t know what was going on at first,” Hurtado told Buzzfeed. “But they’re grateful to have a roof over their heads, clothes, and food. Most of them were praying the hurricane passes so they can get to their families.”
It is unacceptable that ICE defied direct orders that would have kept these women and children safe. Instead. ICE placed these families in direct harm because of their status of not being “aliens” in America and were simply disregarded like trash.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Since these families were not in the U.S. legally, does that give ICE the right to treat these human beings in such a manner? Who do you think should be held to account for this mishap and what do you think should happen? Let us know in the comments below.
(Article by Tasha Sharifa)