Law Offices of George Giosmas

25 years of experience

What immigrants should know about the hurricane season

Hurricane Michael was one of the most intense storms in U.S. history, and hurricane season still is not over yet. Many families in Florida find themselves dealing with the aftermath of the damages and fear what they will do next to recover or where they will go if another storm comes crashing down their area.

With how much deportation enforcement has increased within the last year, it is crucial for undocumented immigrants to know how much it will impact their relief efforts for hurricane recovery.

Arrests slow down during the storm

During the midst of Hurricane Michael, ICE officials announced that they were halting the arrests of undocumented immigrants in Florida and Alabama. This is done not only for consideration of the workers, but also for the immigrants who are afraid they will get deported if they seek shelter elsewhere.

During hurricane Harvey last year, they also announced that they would not conduct sweeps at hurricane shelters. While no official announcements have been made this year regarding shelter sweeps, many Miami shelter workers are being trained to reject immigration officials from interviewing in the shelter. Their focus is to provide you a safe place to stay while the storm passes through your home town, but you should keep an eye on the news to see if there have been any changes in this year’s establishments.

You can seek some assistance from FEMA

Some immigrants do not know if they are able to receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). According to the official site, they do offer immigrants some options, but with some heavy limitations in place. For example, they can apply for Crisis Counseling or Disaster Legal Services, but they are not eligible for most FEMA cash assistance programs unless they apply on behalf of a household member who is a legal U.S. citizen.

If you are applying on behalf of a child or household member who was born in the United States, you will not have to provide any information on your immigration status. However, those applying for FEMA cash assistance will have to sign a Declaration and Release form to confirm that they are a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or a qualified alien (which includes anyone with a green card).

With how much are in fear of disclosing their immigration status when seeking shelter or financial recovery from the storm, it is important to pay attention to the news and be aware of the regulations in place that could impact getting the assistance you need to heal from devastating storms in your state.

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