U.S. immigration and border enforcement officials said Thursday they had moved about 1,900 detainees from the Krome Detention Center, Monroe County Jail, Broward Transitional Center and Glades Detention Center out of the path of Hurricane Irma.
A Department of Homeland Security news release on Wednesday described them as temporary transfers, and spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez said the agency would not say generally to what general region they were being sent. Rodriguez cited “operational security concerns,” a phrase often invoked by the U.S. military to suggest that even general disclosure would put a national security operation at risk.
Thursday, Jennifer Elzea, press secretary at the division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said by email: “ICE had moved approximately 1,900 individuals to facilities outside the immediate projected path of the storm.”
“We will, of course, continue to monitor the storm’s track and make any additional movements, as necessary,” she added. “We will make determinations about where those individuals will be moved to based on available bed space as well as the required logistics, safety and security for such a movement.”
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In addition, the DHS release said, the agency “will not conduct non-criminal immigration enforcement operations in the affected area.” Instead, it said Homeland Security “law enforcement personnel” were being deployed at the request of FEMA, local and state authorities to conduct “search and rescue, air traffic de-confliction and public safety missions.”
“When it comes to rescuing people in the wake of Hurricane Irma, immigration status is not and will not be a factor,” the statement said. “However, the laws will not be suspended, and we will be vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.”