Immigration checkpoints remained open as thousands evacuated the state's coastal cities, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas to accuse the Customs and Border Protection agency of putting policy ahead of safety. "The Border Patrol should never keep checkpoints open during any natural disasters in the United States," Lorella Praeli, the American Civil Liberties Union's director of immigration policy and campaigns, told Time.
"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," Roberto Rodriguez, a public affairs officer with the Border Patrol, told the Texas Tribune.
However, in a joint statement on Friday, CBP and ICE said that undocumented immigrants will not be at risk for deportation if they go to evacuation centers. "Routine non-criminal immigration enforcement operations will not be conducted at evacuation sites, or assistance centers such as shelters or food banks," the statement said.
Hurricane Harvey, which was upgraded to a Category 3 storm, could drop as much as 35 inches of rain in some parts of the state and cause massive storm surges—that is, raising the water as much as 12 feet above coastal land.