Although U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson previously said deportation raids may occur under his discretion, he has revealed enforcement policies will not occur in Flint, Michigan.

Homeland Security's Public Notice: No Raids Due to Water Crisis

The city of Flint has been dealing with a water crisis as a result of corroded lead pipes. The problem started in April 2014 when Michigan's emergency manager decided to swap Flint's water source to the Flint River. The swap was meant to save costs but toxic water began to affect Flint's water pipes.

Volunteers have been distributing free water bottles to Flint's residents, but one demographic has shown fear. Undocumented immigrants have been wary of opening the door to volunteers or visiting a facility for free water bottles due to lacking documentation and risk deportation. This fear isn't only affecting the water bottle distribution but also stopped undocumented residents from visiting health care institutions for lead poisoning tests.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the DHS, the federal department responsible for three immigration-related agencies including the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced it will not conduct enforcement operations at or near clean water distribution facilities in Flint and surrounding areas affected by the water crisis.

"Moreover, DHS officials do not and will not pose as individuals providing water-related information or distributing clean water as part of any enforcement activities," the Homeland Security statement noted.

"Amongst the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's top priorities in the current water emergency in Flint is to support State and local government efforts to distribute clean water and related supplies to individuals in communities who are impacted by the emergency. During the emergency, DHS and its component law enforcement agencies are focused on life-saving and life-sustaining activities and maintaining public order. We stand ready to assist those in need and to support State and local authorities quickly, safely, and efficiently," DHS continued.

January's Deportation Campaign

The deportation concerns heightened in early January when Johnson confirmed ICE agents conducted raids and 121 immigrants were apprehended, most residing in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.

"This should come as no surprise," said Johnson on Jan. 4. "I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities, including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed."

The Homeland Security secretary said the apprehensions, which were conducted the weekend following New Year's Day, focused on three aspects:

1. Were apprehended after May 1, 2014 crossing the southern border illegally;

2. Have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court;

3. Have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws.

In the Jan. 4 statement, he confirmed further deportation raids will continue but under his discretion.

The Obama administration has been criticized for conducting the raids, including presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, 146 House Democrats and senators and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights -- an independent federal agency led by Michael R. Castro, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

"As the nation's civil rights watchdog, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission cannot stand by silent while our federal government deports refugee women and children whose due process rights may have been deprived in the first instance, to potentially life-threatening situations in their home countries," said Castro in a statement in late January. "To continue these deportations to proceed is counter to our values as Americans."


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