How low can they go?
Pretty damned low, it turns out:
For the first time in decades, federal officials refused to make the announcement that they have always made after a disaster. Every recent administration, including this one after the Sept. 11 attacks, has announced for humanitarian reasons as well as for the success of the government's rescue operation that immigration authorities will not use the relief effort as an enforcement opportunity. Indeed, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was quick to announce that his agency would not engage in enforcement against employers of immigrants.Moral: if you're brown in the USA, you better be able to show residency papers upon request.
But the customary announcement regarding immigrants themselves never came. Even as White House officials were assuring community leaders and the ethnic media that they wanted all of the storm's victims to seek help, DHS officials were refusing to provide the necessary assurances that it was safe to come forward, leaving my organization, the National Council of La Raza, and our allies with a dilemma: Do we encourage people to seek help knowing that the government might use it against the very people we are trying to reach? Refusing to give assurances is one thing, but would the government really spend its enforcement resources on hurricane victims?
Apparently, the answer is yes. The Wall Street Journal reported early this month that "police and the U.S. Marshals Service swept into a Red Cross shelter for hurricane refugees [in Long Beach, Miss.]. They blocked the parking lot and exits and demanded identification from about 60 people who looked Hispanic, including some pulled out of the shower and bathroom, according to witnesses."
The only people in the shelter subjected to this treatment were Latinos, including those born in the United States who were there to help; at least one shelter manager, a former Marine and a Vietnam veteran who happened to be Hispanic, was also temporarily detained and screened. This follows several reports of immigrants being placed in deportation proceedings immediately after being taken to safety by government authorities in Texas and West Virginia.