ICE: No immigration enforcement in areas of hurricane shelters or evacuations

ICE: No immigration enforcement in areas of hurricane shelters or evacuations
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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will not carry out enforcement initiatives in regions affected by Hurricane Florence, the agency said Friday.

In a statement to the Raleigh News and Observer, an ICE spokesman confirmed that agents will not make arrests in the affected areas except in the case of a "serious public safety threat.”

“Our highest priority remains the preservation of life and safety,” Bryan Cox told the News and Observer in an emailed statement.


“In consideration of these circumstances, there will be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or sheltering related to Florence, except in the event of a serious public safety threat," he added.

As many as 1.5 million people are under mandatory evacuation orders as a result of the Category 1 storm's approach, with officials in North and South Carolina preparing for heavy winds and widespread flooding. Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Friday morning.

ICE was caught in a storm-related controversy earlier this week when Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyKennedy, Markey neck-and-neck in Massachusetts primary: poll Overnight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development MORE (D-Mass.) told MSNBC that documents obtained by his office showed that ICE had obtained nearly $10 million in transferred funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which also operates under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) umbrella.

"I find it extraordinary," Markey told MSNBC. "It says that money came from response and recovery, right on it."

A DHS spokesman said that "appropriation limitations" prohibited the funds from being used for the expected recovery efforts for Hurricane Florence.

"Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts. This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda at a time when the administration is focused on assisting millions on the East Coast facing a catastrophic disaster," DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said in a statement on Twitter.