State leaders: Immigration enforcement NOT happening at mega-shelter or any Austin shelter

Leaders across the state of Texas have repeatedly made it clear: immigration status won't be checked at Harvey evacuation shelters.

Tuesday afternoon, Austin City Council Member Greg Casar posted a statement on Facebook saying families are afraid their status will be checked at government shelters.

Casar wrote "To be clear: Austin Police are not checking for immigration status at our shelters. however, I understand why people are afraid. Greg Abbott and Donald Trump have purposefully created this fear. They have consistently dehumanized members of our community, especially immigrants, to divide us and conquer us."

His post got some support. "Thank you for fighting the good fight. It's beyond a sad situation that we've allowed our government to create an atmosphere where people are too scared to get help," someone said.

Casar got some pushback too -- someone wrote "Way to take a tragedy and politicize it."

Others accused the council member of using the crisis to push his agenda...and fear-mongering.

Austin LULAC President Gavino Fernandez pointed out Casar has good intentions but it's also a political statement. The focus should be on welcoming evacuees.

"Maybe after the storm has cleared if you will, come out and make your political comments based on the overall issue of SB4 but for right now I think the concentration should be on trying to not discourage people without documentation to come to Austin and any shelter," Fernandez said.

Bristel Minsker with the Red Cross says when an evacuee walks in there's no asking for papers, just Red Cross volunteers conducting a quick and easy check-in process.

"The reason we do that check in is so that we know about how many folks are staying in the shelter, we want to have a good head count there but also so that we can help you during the recovery process later on," Minsker said.

She says none of the information they ask for is mandatory.

"You don't need to provide a government ID or anything like that.  We want everyone to know that everyone is welcome at a Red Cross shelter.  This is about safety, there's no need to be afraid to check in or come into a Red Cross shelter," Minsker said.
 

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