Federal immigration authorities left about 50 immigrant women and children, most of them asylum-seekers from Central America, stranded Friday at a downtown San Antonio bus station due to Hurricane Harvey.
“All of the aliens who were transferred to the San Antonio Greyhound bus station by ICE on Friday morning had confirmed tickets and itineraries to their destinations,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in an official statement.
“Throughout the process, ICE remained in close contact with bus officials to ensure bus availability, and all aliens had confirmed bus transportation at the time at which ICE officers departed the station. Ultimately, ICE kept two additional families in custody since their bus trip had been canceled,” the agency said.
Barbie Hurtado, a community organizer with RAICES, a nonprofit that provides legal aid to immigrant families, said Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who represents San Antonio, had called immigration enforcement officials the day before to tell them not to drop families off.
“Knowing that, they just dropped them off,” Hurtado said. “These are women and children who have been released from family detention with no money, cell phones, and don’t speak English.”
The Hill added:
The families, the majority of whom were asylum-seekers from Central America, were stranded after Greyhound suspended services before the hurricane, according to Rivard Report. They were eventually taken in by a local church until bus services resumed
Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett had called ICE officials on Thursday to tell them not to drop families off, Buzzfeed reported.
Doggett told Buzzfeed that ICE assured him on Friday that immigrants would not be left for long periods at the station.
ICE did not say whether buses were running when the families were left at the station.
When families are released from ICE custody the agency “no longer has authorization to control their movements if they decide to alter or cancel their bus trip. Nor can we remain on site to monitor their travel status since they are no longer in ICE custody,” an ICE official told The Hill.