HOUSTON, Texas — In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, reports claim that about 600,000 illegal immigrants live in the Houston area. The issue came up as some media outlets expressed concern about the illegal immigrants’ status in emergency shelters and their eligibility to obtain federal assistance to rebuild homes destroyed by the devastating floodwaters dumped in the storm’s wake.
“The Houston metro area is home to about 600,000 undocumented immigrants,” the Texas Tribune reported. in an article about Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts. The article expressed concerns that illegal immigrants seeking shelter might be rounded up by immigration officials. The news outlet cited a Pew Research report from earlier this year that detailed the top 20 cities in terms of illegal immigrant population. Houston ranked number 3 with 575,000 based on 2014 estimates. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of Unaccompanied Alien Children and Family Unit Aliens streamed across the Texas border with Mexico — mostly from Central America.
In the fall semester of 2014, Houston Independent School District officials reported that 3,000 “undocumented minors” enrolled in the district’s schools in the months following the surge of migrant children first reported by Breitbart Texas’ Editor in Chief Brandon Darby in June.
In 2014, Harris County boasted a population of 4.448 million people. This means that the illegal immigrant population represented nearly 13 percent of the county’s population.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner expressed concerns about possible immigration enforcement action during the flood crisis. “Turner, a Democrat, said he would personally defend anyone who was caught in an immigration trap after seeking shelter,” the Texas Tribune reported. His comments came despite repeated statements from state and federal officials that no immigration action would be taken during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
NPR restated the claim that more than one in ten “Houstonians do not have the right to live in the U.S.” The NPR article bemoans the fact that illegal immigrants are not eligible for disaster relief assistance from FEMA — unless they are the parents of a U.S. citizen.
“Advocates say, many who qualify have not done so out of fear that asking for help might alert immigration authorities to their presence and ultimately lead to deportation,” NPR stated.
“We’re afraid,” Rosa Sosa, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, told NPR. “That’s why we don’t declare our losses. We haven’t even gone to the management office here at the apartment complex.”
NPR reported that, despite all the hand wringing, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials deported a total of nobody during Harvey’s aftermath. In fact, the agency reported rescuing 1,400 people along with two dozen pets.