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CBP resumes operations despite ongoing Harvey disaster declaration

CBP resumes operations despite ongoing Harvey disaster declaration

WASHINGTON: Despite an ongoing federal disaster declaration, Customs and Border Protection has resumed routine immigration enforcement operations in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, agency spokeswoman Yolanda Choates said in a statement Tuesday. On August 25, CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced a temporary hold on “routine non-criminal immigration enforcement operations” at storm evacuation sites, shelters and food banks as Hurricane Harvey reached major disaster status and tore through the Texas coast. Choates said that CBP agents apprehended no illegal immigrants from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9 in storm-stricken areas from Corpus Christi to New Orleans. FEMA spokesman Troy Christensen confirmed that the area’s federal disaster declaration was ongoing as of Tuesday afternoon. Six hundred CBP employees participated in Harvey aid efforts and ultimately rescued 1,362 people and 29 pets, Choates said, adding that CBP emergency operations centers began closing on Sept. 4.

“CBP did not check people’s immigration status during the rescues and did not conduct any immigration enforcement at evacuation sites or shelters,” Choate said. “While no apprehensions were logged through Sept. 9, CBP returned to normal operations in the impacted areas along the Texas Gulf Coast after Sept. 5.”Carl Rusnok, communications director for the central region of ICE that includes Texas, said that the agency did not carry out any non-criminal immigration enforcement operations and “made no at-large immigration-related arrests — routine or otherwise — during or after Hurricane Harvey in the affected area of the hurricane.” Rusnok said that 200 ICE employees nationwide participated in Harvey relief efforts, but did not confirm whether or not ICE had lifted the enforcement suspension on Tuesday. ICE also continued to take custody of illegal immigrants who had been arrested on criminal charges by other law enforcement agencies, the agency confirmed.