US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been instructed to suspend immigration enforcement on families affected by the recent Uvalde elementary school shooting, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced. The shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas has shocked and devastated the town.
A lone gunman murdered 19 students and two teachers at the school in Uvalde, which is just an hour’s drive from the US-Mexico border. The perpetrator was eventually shot and killed by US immigration Border Patrol agents, after police hesitated over entering the school, according to widespread reports.
Many of the children killed were from Hispanic families, some of whom claim that US immigration agents were already present at the scene of the shooting, potentially to stop non-citizen families from trying to find out if their children had survived the massacre.
However, in an official statement issued by the DHS, it was explained that ‘sites providing emergency response and relief are considered protected areas. To the fullest extent possible, US immigration agencies, including ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) do not conduct immigration enforcement activities in protected areas’.
The statement went on to say that this includes evacuation routes, facilities used for the sheltering or distribution of emergency supplies, food or water, or registration sites for disaster-related assistance or the reuniting of family members with their loved ones.
An excerpt from the statement reads: “ICE and CBP provide emergency assistance to individuals regardless of their immigration status. DHS officials do not and will not pose as individuals providing emergency-related information as part of any enforcement activities.
“The site of the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas is a protected area. To the fullest extent possible, ICE and CBP will not conduct immigration enforcement activities there so that individuals, regardless of immigration status, can seek assistance, reunify with family and loved ones, and otherwise address the tragedy that occurred.”
The assailant responsible for the shooting, Salvador Ramos, was a US citizen. However, early rumours circulated by the right, including extremist Congressman Paul Gosar, described Ramos as a “transsexual leftist illegal alien” on Twitter. He quickly deleted the tweet upon discovering that his assertion was incorrect.
Meanwhile, Republican National Hispanic Assembly Caribbean Regional Director, Nelson R. Albino, initially posted on Twitter that Ramos was a ‘mentally unstable liberal youth that dressed like a girl’, before he too deleted his tweet.
Ramos reportedly barricaded himself inside a classroom on May 24 with a group of teachers and students who he had trapped and held hostage. He then began shooting before he was killed by US Border Patrol agents who had struggled to get into the room. It’s claimed that Ramos was wearing body armor and armed with an automatic rifle sold to him illegally.
Meghan Markle visit
In the aftermath of the shooting, Meghan Markle - the Duchess of Sussex and wife of Prince Harry – visited Uvalde in what she described as a ‘personal capacity as a mother’, and to offer her condolences and support to the Uvalde community.
Markle visited a makeshift memorial outside the Uvalde County Courthouse where 21 crosses had been set up, each with a victim’s name. The Duchess laid a flower at the base of a cross for 8-year-old Uziyah Garcia, one of the children murdered in the massacre.
Accompanied by a single bodyguard, Markle also visited a community center to drop off food and drink donations for blood drive donors.
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