Environment

Hurricane potential off S. Texas coast leaves some wondering if Border Patrol will make good on threat to screen for undocumented

Hurricane potential off S. Texas coast leaves some wondering if Border Patrol will make good on threat to screen for undocumented

LatinaLista — Dolly is getting her act together and while that's usually a good thing for most of those with this name, it isn't for this Dolly — Tropical Storm Dolly, that is.

Proposed trajectory of Tropical Storm Dolly through Texas' Rio Grande Valley.
(Source: National Hurricane Center)

According to the latest advisory issued by the National Hurricane Center:

SATELLITE IMAGES INDICATE THAT DOLLY IS BECOMING BETTER ORGANIZED...
ALTHOUGH THE MAXIMUM WINDS REMAIN NEAR NEAR 50 MPH...85 KM/HR...
WITH HIGHER GUSTS. GRADUAL STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST...AND DOLLY IS
EXPECTED TO BECOME A HURRICANE BEFORE REACHING THE WESTERN GULF OF
MEXICO COAST.

The point of impact is calculated to be around Brownsville,Texas. There are reports that people are flocking to the Home Depot stores in the area and stocking up on supplies and materials to board their homes.
The city of Brownsville is giving out sandbags to every resident who brings a proof of residency and a shovel and a multi-agency coordination center is being set up in McAllen to smooth communications between different jurisdictions. The governor of Texas has also activated the National Guard to be on standby in case they're needed.
With all this activity, there is still "an elephant in the room" that no one has openly addressed yet — if evacuation becomes necessary, will the border patrol follow through on their threat of separating the undocumented from the general population?


On July 9, 2008, two Texas civil rights groups filed a lawsuit in Federal Court ordering Customs and Border Patrol to release information on its plan to check immigration status at checkpoints during a hurricane evacuation. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of several non-profit organizations in the Valley that help the undocumented.
Representatives from the civil rights groups say that such a lawsuit is necessary because the Border Patrol has not been totally consistent in its answers when asked about their plans. The lawsuit, they hope, will force the agency to formally clarify their plans.
Not even Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff's comments in May where he said:

"In the event of an emergency, and the need for an evacuation, priority No. 1 by a country mile is the safe evacuation of people who are leaving the danger zone. Instructions to the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection are clear. They are to do nothing to impede a safe and speedy evacuation of a danger zone."

is pacifying groups and Valley residents. If the Border Patrol should decide to participate in any evacuation measures that take place as a result of Tropical Storm Dolly, the people have said they would ignore the evacuation.
We can only hope that it doesn't come to that point, but if the situation worsens where people will have to be evacuated for their own safety, we hope that common sense prevails and the appreciation of the value of human life surpasses the enforcement of any misguided policy, no matter if it is the law or not.

Environment

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