ALERT: Concern for Immigrants During Fire Evacuations and Relief Effort
Since Monday, October 22, 2007, staff and volunteers working with the San Diego Immigrants’ Rights Consortium, of which the ACLU of San Diego is a key member, have witnessed and received reports that immigrant evacuees have been forced to work through the evacuations, been ejected from and denied entrance to evacuation centers, been intimidated by law enforcement and minutemen while attempting to access much needed relief supplies and services, been threatened with immigration enforcement, and in at least one instance been apprehended and deported.
In addition, we continue to hear from immigrant evacuees who are afraid of going to evacuation or service centers for assistance and who are afraid to travel home out of fear that they will be inspected or intimidated by law enforcement.
We are very concerned about the apparent lack of Spanish speaking representatives from FEMA and Red Cross and the related lack of information in Spanish about the documents required and the process for accessing assistance. Officials estimate that there are over 40,000 displaced persons. Many of them are low-income and many are immigrants. Some have lost their homes, some have lost their jobs, and some are in dire need of food, clothing and shelter for their families.
We call on FEMA, Red Cross, and city and county officials to commit the resources available to extend the maximum possible assistance to all the families in need, including immigrant families regardless of their status.