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U.S. immigration law may affect ability to seek disaster relief

The aftermath of Hurricane Irma is just beginning to unfold throughout Florida and other nearby regions. The disaster hit just weeks after another recent hurricane in the south eastern part of the nation. U.S. immigration law has apparently negatively affected undocumented immigrants' abilities to obtain disaster relief in the state that was hit the hardest by Hurricane Harvey.

This has left many residents here wondering if similar challenges will occur in this state. Reportedly, no undocumented person is eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency services. FEMA will be a mainstay of support in the days and weeks to come, and many immigrant advocates are trying to help those who are undocumented find other means of assistance.

One immigrant advocate recently explained that in times like these, undocumented people generally have to rely on local and state relief organizations for help since they do not qualify for any type of federal relief. With regard to the recent hurricane disasters in Texas, nearly one fourth of Houston residents hail from countries of other origins and approximately one third of those reside there without benefit of proper legal statuses. This has left well over half a million people without assistance in the wake of the storms.

Seeking shelter and obtaining post disaster relief is likely not among the challenges most undocumented people in Florida (or Texas) thought they would face when they came to the United States to live. However, unexpected situations often lead to U.S. immigration law problems for those whose papers are not in order. An immigration and naturalization law attorney would be a good source of support for someone in need of legal assistance following a national disaster or in any other circumstances.

Source: houstonpublicmedia.org, "For Houston's Undocumented Immigrants, There's No Promise Of Disaster Relief", Stella Chavez, Sept. 5, 2017

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