Migrants Vulnerable As Gustav Forces New Orleans Evacuation
Thankfully, it looks as if the local, state, and federal agencies are doing everything they can to make sure this is not a repeat of Katrina. We need to give credit where credit is due, and it looks as if President Bush is taking the right steps to confront this potential disaster head on. The Republican National Convention will likely be delayed or shortened, according to the New York Times. This is another development I welcome. Humanity has been put before politics.
Still early reports already suggest that there is at least one set of people that is being forgotten as the hurricane approaches. There is a huge unauthorized migrant population in the Gulf Coast region.
Advocates have criticized the decision not to establish a shelter, warning that day laborers and the poorest residents will still fall through the cracks. As lines at bus stations kept building, about two dozen Hispanic men talked under oak trees near Claiborne Avenue, where on better days they would be waiting to be picked up for day labor.I have yet to find any extremely troubling reports like those that came out of Southern California as the wildfires burned in October of 2007. Farmers asked migrants to work through the fires while others evacuated in their "Mercedeses and Jaguars". The majority of those that died (4 of 7) were migrants. Migrants were also left out of the relief efforts forcing the government of Mexico to step in. The post I wrote about the disaster reads like fiction.
They'd been listening to Spanish radio and television but none of them knew what to do and were waiting for someone to come by and tell them, said Pictor Soto, 44, of Peru. Told they could take a bus at Union Passenger Terminal, they all shook their heads, fearful that immigration agents would be looking for them. "The problem is, there will be immigration people there and we're all undocumented," Soto said.
Becky Bohrer - Associated Press (31 August 2008)
While there have not been any reports from the Gulf Coast to suggest neglect such as this, the climate of fear that migrants live in is going to make them extremely vulnerable. Just last week ICE carried out its largest raid yet not far from New Orleans in Laurel, Mississippi.
These raids President Bush is at fault for. If unauthorized migrants die because they stay behind in fear of ICE, it's going to be on the federal government's conscience. ICE has put out statements urging migrants to evacuate, but this does not make up for the climate of fear ICE has forced migrants to live in, exemplified in the statements above.
I hope others will join me in praying for the residents of the Gulf Coast tonight. I will write more as events develop and ways to do something about this emerge. Until then see this call for help in the wake of the Mississippi raid.
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UPDATES BELOWPicture: Ariana Cubillos / AP PhotoThank God. It looks as if our prayers for the Gulf Coast came through. But we forgot to pray for the Caribbean.(For those of you that can't read all the way through this post,... Read More
I knew unauthorized migrants were going to get left behind in Gustav. I wrote about it here. Despite assurances from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), migrants have been forced to live in such a climate of fear that they wouldn't... Read More