Saturday, May 17, 2008

The DHS Follies

Noted without comment:

Ending speculation about the fate of the Rio Grande Valley's undocumented immigrants during a hurricane evacuation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has confirmed it will check the citizenship both of people boarding buses to leave the Valley and at inland traffic checkpoints.

Those determined to be in the country illegally will be taken to detention centers away from the hurricane's path and later processed for deportation.

"It's business as usual at the checkpoints," said Dan Doty, spokesman for CBP's Rio Grande Valley sector. "We'll still check everybody."

Locals responded with predictions of humanitarian disaster.

"We can't wait to see the helicopter photos of us sitting on roofs," said the Rev. Mike Seifert, a priest and activist based in a colonia outside Brownsville. The many area families with one or more undocumented members would just refuse to evacuate, he said.

"Imagine," Seifert said. "We're all in an uproar, everybody's in an enormous hurry, there's just a narrow window of opportunity and you get to the place with the buses and the Border Patrol's checking people. You're not going to go."

In the disastrous wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, officials in the Valley have pondered the politics of mass evacuation, illegal immigration and the checkpoints that filter northbound traffic every day.

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