Undocumented migrants detained in Fla. ahead of Hurricane Irma despite DHS pledge: report

Undocumented migrants detained in Fla. ahead of Hurricane Irma despite DHS pledge: report
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Immigration agents continued to round up immigrants in Florida amid preparations for Hurricane Irma last September, despite a statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that it would temporarily halt non-criminal immigration enforcement in affected areas, according to a report from BuzzFeed News.

The agency announced on Sept. 6 that it would not carry out enforcement operations in areas that would be affected by the hurricane. 

"DHS will not conduct non-criminal immigration enforcement operations in the affected area," the department said in a statement.


"At the request of [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], 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," according to the statement. "When it comes to rescuing people in the wake of Hurricane Irma, immigration status is not and will not be a factor."

However, BuzzFeed reported that officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) kept carrying out day-to-day operations in the state for four days. 

CBP officials told the publication that immigration-related operations and arrests continued until Sept. 10, which is when Irma made landfall in Florida. 

Court documents obtained by BuzzFeed reportedly show that officials took three men into custody on Sept. 6 after they were unable to provide proper identification. 

The men were also placed on GPS monitoring by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which had suspended its detention operations ahead of the approaching storm, according to the report.

CPB officials told BuzzFeed that the arrests occurred hours before DHS issued the statement regarding operations related to enforcement for the storm.
BuzzFeed reported that ICE was already acting under the emergency policy.

Peter Daniel, the acting chief patrol agent of the U.S. Border Patrol in Miami, told the publication that the statement from DHS did not specifically say when the suspension of operations would take effect. 

The DHS had also said in its statement that it would continue to enforce the law if it noticed criminal activity.

"However, the laws will not be suspended, and we will be vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm," the statement said.

The DHS maintained in a statement to The Hill that it was committed to encouraging individuals to seek safety as the storm approached. 
"DHS was committed to encouraging all individuals to seek shelter or to evacuate in the face of the hurricane without concern for non-criminal law enforcement," acting DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton said. 
- This story was updated at 7:35 P.M. EST.