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U.S. immigration and border enforcement officials said Wednesday evening they were moving an undisclosed number of detainees from the Krome Detention Center, Monroe County Jail, Broward Transitional Center and Glades Detention Center out of the path of Hurricane Irma.
A Department of Homeland Security news release described them as temporary transfers, and spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez said the agency would not say generally how many people it was moving and to what general region they were being sent. Rodriguez cited “operational security concerns,” a phrase often invoked by the U.S. military to suggest that even general disclosure would put a national security operation at risk.
In addition, the DHS release said, the agency “will not conduct non-criminal immigration enforcement operations in the affected area.” Instead, it said Homeland Security “law enforcement personnel” were being deployed at the request of FEMA, local and state authorities to conduct “search and rescue, air traffic de-confliction and public safety missions.”
“When it comes to rescuing people in the wake of Hurricane Irma, immigration status is not and will not be a factor,” the statement said. “However, the laws will not be suspended, and we will be vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.”