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Hurricane Intensifies Texas Immigration Crisis
Environment, Featured Story, The Latest News

Hurricane Intensifies Texas Immigration Crisis

Harsh New Anti-Immigrant Law Is About to Take Effect Just as Thousands Seek Aid

Texas showdown. With rain still falling and flood waters rising, Texas may be on the verge of an immigration showdown. Thousands of undocumented immigrant hurricane refugees fear they will be swept up by local authorities operating under a draconian new anti-sanctuary law scheduled to take effect on Friday.

The law, known as Senate Bill 4, requires local police to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and allows police to inquire about the immigration status of people they lawfully detain. Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio are suing the state over the law and are seeking a federal injunction barring its implementation.

Houston has an estimated 600,000 undocumented immigrants, more than any other city in the United States except New York and Los Angeles.

The Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that routine enforcement will not be conducted at evacuation sites, shelters or food banks. The organizations said, however, that “the laws will not be suspended, and we will be vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.”

It’s unclear how various local authorities will respond. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the law should be put “on the shelf” while the city focuses on rescuing victims of the storm, but local officials elsewhere in the region haven’t made their plans known.

Water still rising. Harvey made a second landfall near the Louisiana-Texas border on Wednesday, drenching the region with rain that could lead to “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding.” The rainfall that caused a deluge in Texas has ended for the most part in Houston and is moving east, threatening to dump an additional 3-6 inches from southwestern Louisiana into western Kentucky, the National Hurricane Center said.

Harvey has set a record for total rainfall from a single storm in the United States. More than 51 inches of rain has fallen in parts of Houston. Thirty people have died, including Houston Police Sgt. Steve Perez. More than 6,000 people have been rescued.

Trump arrived in Corpus Christi, Texas and then traveled to Austin. Even after a hurricane, Trump managed to turn attention to himself. As of Tuesday afternoon, Trump had not mentioned those killed, called on other Americans to help or directly encouraged donations to relief organizations. Trump didn’t cut his weekend short at Camp David because of the hurricane. More rainfall is expected through Friday.

Transgender freeze. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced transgender troops can continue serving in the military while a study is done. The announcement follows an order from Trump saying that transgender service members can no longer serve in the military.

Open carry. Missouri laws allow for open carry of guns in public spaces. Trump is planning to speak at an invitation-only event in Springfield, Mo. Legally carried weapons in Charlottesville, Va., have sparked debate over whether firearms should be banned from protests. Trump supporters and opponents are both planning to protest outside Trump’s appearance. Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said police are ready to “maintain a safe environment.”

August 30, 2017