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The Tragedy in Uvalde - Impact on Immigrants

Immigrating as a child was a challenge that shaped my world through my struggles and successes.

Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong

Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong

Tragedy in the Lonestar State

By now everyone has heard about the unspeakable tragedy that took place on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. The final death toll was 21, with 19 of the victims being children. The primarily conservative town is home to a large Hispanic community, so it is no surprise that many of the victims of the attack were Hispanic. The fact that the gunman was killed by the authorities offers little comfort to those who have lost a child or to the families of the two teachers also brutally murdered in the vicious attack. Authorities do not yet have answers as to what the motive for this attack was and continue to investigate.

ICE at the Uvalde Shooting Site

Many sources, correctly reported that ICE was present at the site of the shooting. However, their reason for being there had little to do with immigration activities and everything to with offering support to law enforcement as they tried to get a handle on the situation. Twitter users went absolutely bonkers this morning making their displeasure known about the presence of Border Police. One user tweeted that because agents were at Uvalde, “Undocumented parents have to consider arrest deportation before they go check to see if their kids are alive”. While this may seem minimal in comparison to the tragedy they've already suffered, bear in mind that in many cases these families migrate to the U.S. to escape dangerous situation in their country of origin. Going back only makes an already unthinkable situation much worse, particularly if they have other children.

In order to alleviate the concern of being detained, Texas officials have deemed Uvalde a "protected area", which means that immigration activities, to the fullest possible extent, are temporarily suspended in Uvalde. What does "to the fullest extent" mean? It means that CPB and ICE will not conduct immigration enforcement activities protected areas such as along evacuation routes, sites used for sheltering or the distribution of emergency supplies, food or water, or registration sites for disaster-related assistance or the reunification of families and loved ones. The site of the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas is now considered a protected area, so ICE and CBP will not conduct immigration enforcement activities there so that individuals, regardless of immigration status, can seek assistance, reunify with family and loved ones, and otherwise address the tragedy that occurred.(USCIS)


What Happens When Uvalde is no Longer a Protected Area?

There is no set expiration date for the "protected area" status for Uvalde. All we know at this point is that it is a pause and not a permanent halt. For now, victims can and are encouraged to seek assistance from law enforcement and gather with family during this awful time, without fear of immigration officers taking action against them. To learn more about protected areas you can visit the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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© 2022 Celia Ribeiro

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