An illegal immigrant mother in North Carolina said she feared U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would separate her from her family if she evacuated to avoid Hurricane Florence, but ICE and city officials said they would not be targeting undocumented migrants during the emergency.
“My concern is that we’ve heard rumors that they were not accepting undocumented persons and that if you went there [evacuation shelter], you risk that they could take you from there,” Iris, who requested her last name remain anonymous, said in Spanish through a translator, NBC News reported Thursday.
Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said undocumented individuals would not be separated from their children, according to NBC.
An ICE official backed up this assertion as well.
“Our highest priority remains the preservation of life and safety,” an ICE spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In consideration of these circumstances, there will be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or sheltering related to Florence, except in the event of a serious public safety threat.”
Iris ended up planning to bring her family to a shelter at a public school after learning she would not be separated from her children, NBC reported. She arrived there on Thursday.
It was unclear whether Iris’s daughter was born inside or outside of the U.S.
Family separation occurred under President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy to halt illegal immigration. The Trump administration stopped family separation and signed an executive order that would allow officials to detain illegal immigrant families together on June 20.
Hurricane Florence was a Category 4 hurricane, but officials downgraded it to a Category 1 storm, TheDCNF reported. As of Friday morning, more than 100 people had been rescued.
Florence hit the North Carolina coast Friday with life-threatening storm surges, heavy rainfall and high-force winds. (RELATED: ‘Life-Threatening Storm Surges’: Hurricane Florence Slams Into North Carolina)
Evacuation orders were given to more than 1 million people living in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, according to USA Today.
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