May 22, 2008

Hurricanes, Citizenship, and the Makings of an Unnatural Disaster

People in the Rio Grande Valley, on the southern tip of Texas, were rattled last week by reports that the federal government was planning to do something very, very stupid the next time a hurricane came bearing down.

The word was out that the Border Patrol would be checking citizenship at evacuation centers, screening out illegal immigrants before evacuees boarded buses. Who cares if it’s a hurricane — it would still be “business as usual” for the Border Patrol, the agency’s local spokesman said.

Wow. That’s hard-core. Even in a country that is becoming inured to the relentless pursuit and harassment of undocumented immigrants, it is mind-boggling to consider what the spokesman, Dan Doty, was suggesting:

Winds may be howling, floodwaters rising and rescuers in McAllen and Brownsville scrambling to get 100,000 to 150,000 sick, elderly, poor and disabled people to safety as quickly as possible — but if Grandma doesn’t have her papers, she isn’t getting on the bus.

At least not the happy bus.

For the full editorial, click here.

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