Houston, TX — In wake of the largest storm to hit Texas in over a decade, President Trump announced via Twitter today that he plans on signing an executive order granting amnesty to all evacuating illegal immigrants. The announcement, fresh on the heels of several controversial executive actions on Friday including the pardon of convicted Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the banning of transgender service members from the military, has raised eyebrows among both President Trump’s supporters and detractors.
“This Texas storm is terrible. The Mexicans know that I’m not a bad guy,” said the President in a Saturday morning Tweet. “Just show your papers as you evacaute [sic] [and] you’ll be granted amnesty.”
This action by tweet, which is not an official government action, contradicts reports by other news outlets that the Trump administration will check people’s papers as they evacuate from Hurricane Harvey. In what some are saying is a related move, Border Patrol checkpoints, which check individuals’ documents to make sure they are legal residents of the US, will stay open as the storm approaches, the Customs and Border Protection agency said Friday in an emailed statement:
U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints in the path of Hurricane Harvey in Texas will close as state highways close. These closures will occur in a manner that ensures the safety of the traveling public and our agents. Border Patrol checkpoints that are outside of the path of the hurricane will remain operational. CBP will remain vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) highest priorities are to promote life-saving and life-sustaining activities, the safe evacuation of people who are leaving the impacted area, the maintenance of public order, the prevention of the loss of property to the extent possible, and the speedy recovery of the region. Anyone in the path of this storm should follow instructions from their local officials and heed any warnings as this dangerous storm approaches.
Civil rights activists said the new policy was cruel. It also could result in avoidable fatalities, if some families with illegal immigrant members choose not to evacuate the storm zone.
“This is a disgusting Tweet from the President that breaks with past practices and is designed to trick immigrants into getting arrested,” American Civil Liberties Union director of immigration policy and campaigns Lorella Praeli said. “The President and the Border Patrol should never keep checkpoints open during any natural disasters in the United States. Everyone, no matter the color of their skin or background, is worth saving.”
Not everyone, including some Trump supporters, was confused by the President’s Tweets.
“This is Trump being Trump,” said supporter Brad Haley of Tempe, Arizona. “It’s like the Dilbert Cartoon guy always says. You know this is Trump just being persuasive and not lying. He’s doing what it takes to win. And I think this is a brilliant move, trap these vermin if you don’t mind me saying.”
The White House issued a statement saying the President Stands by his tweet, and that they know nothing of immigration checkpoints in the evacuation routes.