Border patrol agents intend to continue operating checkpoints along the Rio Grande as Hurricane Harvey hammers Texas.
Roadside immigration checkpoints will remain open unless the hurricane — which is expected to make landfall late Friday — presents a danger to travelers or agents, reported the Texas Tribune.
“We’re not going to impede anybody getting out of here, but at the same time we’re a law enforcement agency, so we still have to conduct our duties,” said Roberto Rodriguez, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The hurricane is expected to hit southeast Texas and the coast hardest, but the Rio Grande Valley and surrounding areas could see severe flooding and possible winds up to 110 mph.
Thousands of Texans are preparing to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Harvey, and undocumented immigrants could be detained if they’re caught in checkpoints while fleeing the storm.
“Safety should be a priority regardless of immigration status,” said ACLU policy strategist Astrid Dominguez. “This is very concerning for the community. It sends a wrong message.”
She hopes the federal government will ease up on enforcement if the hurricane intensifies and mass evacuations are ordered.
The Obama administration suspended immigration checkpoints in areas impacted by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Isaac in 2012.