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November 15, 2017

Reps. Barragán and Lofgren Introduce the Safe Emergency Response Act

For immediate release

Contact: Dave Perera
(202) 770-7899


The legislation is in response to ambiguous ICE and CBP directives concerning immigration enforcement in areas affected by disaster

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-San Pedro) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) today introduced the Safe Emergency Response Act. The legislation would require Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend immigration enforcement operations in areas affected by a major disaster or emergency.

“Undocumented people and mixed-status families must be able to safely evacuate from disaster areas without fear of deportation. It’s unconscionable that ICE and CBP would allow uncertainty around enforcement activities to fester while families are contemplating what could be life and death decisions,” said Rep. Barragan. “My legislation ensures that evacuees are focused on what’s important – their safety and the safety of those around them.”

“Immigration status should not be a factor when our government responds to a major disaster,” said Lofgren. “Reports of immigration enforcement activities in the wake of emergencies not only strikes fear in the immigrant community, but puts lives in jeopardy and makes it harder for first responders to do their job.”

As thousands fled the hurricanes in Texas and Florida and wild fires in California earlier this year, ICE and CBP issued vague and confusing directives about immigration enforcement activities at roadside immigration checkpoints, assistance shelters and evacuation sites. The ambiguity sparked concern that immigrants and mixed-status families would ignore instructions to evacuate for fear that they will be stopped and deported.

The directives contrast with a 2016 statement issued by the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security that prioritized safety by declaring in clear terms that enforcement measures would be temporarily suspended during evacuations as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

The legislation is co-sponsored by: Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Dwight Evans (PA), James McGovern (MA), Grace Napolitano (CA), Don Beyer (VA), Jared Huffman (CA), Luis Guitierrez (IL), Juan Vargas (CA), Darren Soto (FL), Jimmy Gomez (CA), Salud Carbajal (CA), Ruben Kihuen (NV)

Endorsed by: American Civil Liberties Union, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Immigration Law Center, Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, UNIDOS US


Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington.