Texas Illegals Promised 'Hurricane Amnesty'

Officials don't want immigration enforcement to impede evacuations
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2008 1:59 PM CDT
People pull back as a wave crashes against the seawall as Hurricane Ike approaches Galveston, Texas, today.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The federal government has declared a “hurricane amnesty” in an attempt to get Texas’ illegal immigrants out of Hurricane Ike’s way, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Immigration officials will not attempt to arrest illegals in shelters or along common evacuation routes. The Red Cross has begun outreach programs informing undocumented residents of the amnesty today, the first day of mandatory evacuations.

But after several years of intensified immigration enforcement, officials worry that some of the state's estimated 1.6 million illegal immigrants will simply take their chances rather than risk arrest. “They want to enforce immigration laws, and another priority is to protect people and save lives,” one expert said. “It's not going to be an easy task to reconcile them.”