Delays at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Orlando have forced hundreds of migrants, including children, to wait in long lines and has prompted some people to sleep in tents or inside their cars, US Rep. Darren Soto said in a letter sent to federal authorities and posted on Twitter.
“Our immigrant families deserve more respect than this inhumane treatment,” Soto, a Democrat, tweeted Saturday.
The letter, addressed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, says at least 250 people were experiencing delays. The letter is dated April 29, 2022.
“Many of these people have recently arrived in the United States and are seeking appointments with immigration agents. Men, women and young children have been seen sleeping in cars and tents in the Florida heat as they wait to be processed,” Soto said in the letter, asking for an investigation and swift solution.
Migrants processed by federal immigration agents at the US southern border are allowed to travel within the US to meet their families. They are usually given a deadline to check in with the local immigration office upon arrival to their final destination.
“They’re only taking in about 60 people a day,” Miquel Garcia told CNN affiliate WESH-TV Friday. Garcia said he had been waiting outside the immigration office for five days and that a list of 200 names had been penned to honor places in line.
Garcia, a Venezuelan national, crossed into the US through Texas three months ago and was ordered to wear an ankle monitor with a tracking system when he was processed by immigration agents, he told WESH-TV. The deadline for Garcia’s ICE check-in is unclear.
ICE issued a statement to CNN on Saturday that said: “As the Department has continuously stated, DHS has put in place a comprehensive, whole-of-government plan and has established a Southwest Border Coordination Center (SBCC) to manage any potential increase in the number of migrants encountered at the border.”
“In (fiscal year 2021), ICE shifted its operations away from the detention of families while continuing to monitor its operational needs for detention and adjust as needed,” the agency added.
“General operational changes are made to ICE’s civil detention system by quickly adapting to influxes, contractual changes, and other occurrences help the agency meet its national security, border security, and public safety missions,” the statement said.
CNN has also reached out to the Department of Homeland Security for comment and did not immediately hear back.