The Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday that it will not be going after illegal immigrants without criminal records in areas to be affected by Hurricane Irma.
Irma, a powerful Category 5 hurricane, is quickly approaching the American territories of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. It is also slated to hit Florida.
“DHS will not conduct non-criminal immigration enforcement operations in the affected area,” DHS said in a statement before the hurricane makes landfall. “At the request of FEMA, local and state authorities, DHS law enforcement personnel will be in the affected area 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.”
“However, the laws will not be suspended, and we will be vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm,” the statement continued. DHS also said that immigration detainees in detention centers in the path of the storm will be temporarily transferred.
DHS made a similar statement before Hurricane Harvey struck Texas.