Houston mayor works to dispel deportation rumors, urges illegal immigrants to seek flood assistance


Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is urging illegal immigrants to seek flood-related assistance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, reports the Washington Examiner.

His message comes amid rumors that those reporting to shelters would be asked about their immigration status and asked to produce documentation.

The City of Houston noted in a duo Monday night tweets, one in Spanish and one in English, “We will not ask for immigration status or papers from anyone at any shelter. This rumor is FALSE!”   

Earlier that day, Turner, who is an attorney, told reporters, “There is absolutely no reason why anyone should not call. And I and others will be the first ones to stand up with you. If someone comes and they require help and then for some reason [someone] tries to deport them, I will represent them myself.”

He further commented, “If you are in a stressful situation, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you’re religion is, I don’t care what your language is, you come and take advantage of every service that we have.”

It’s unclear where the rumor started, but a Thursday report in the Texas Tribune likely didn’t help matters.

The publication announced that checkpoints run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, would stay open despite the then-impending hurricane.

The next day, that statement was corrected by CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

They said in a joint news release, “In evacuation or response, we are committed to making sure that we can assist local authorities quickly, safely, and efficiently. Routine non-criminal immigration enforcement operations will not be conducted at evacuation sites, or assistance centers such as shelters or food banks. The laws will not be suspended, and we will be vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.”

At this time, the damage done by Hurricane Harvey in Houston is estimated at $30 billion to $40 billion, making it, in economic terms, the 4th most destructive storm in U.S. history.


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