ICE office in Orlando. Illustration.
Shelle-Ann Simon

Shelle-Ann Simon

Delays at ICE office in Orlando force hundreds of immigrants to sleep in tents in Florida heat

Dozens of immigrants wait for days outside ICE office in Orlando, hoping to continue their immigration process so they can keep fighting to remain in the country.

Long delays at the ICE office in Orlando force hundreds of migrants, including children, to wait in long lines and some had to resort to sleeping outside in tents or inside their cars. Congressman Darren Soto stated on his personal Twitter account that “our immigrant families deserve more respect than this inhumane treatment.”

Soto also sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson stating that at least 250 people were experiencing delays in their immigration process in Orlando and calling for an investigation and quick fix.

“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 await processing.”

An excerpt of Congressman Soto’s letter from Twitter about the pressing situation at the ICE office in Orlando.

Who is affected by the delays at the ICE Office in Orlando?

The migrants affected by the delays of the ICE office in Orlando were processed by agents of the Customs and Border Control Office (CBP) on the United States’ southern border with Mexico. After finding that they have probable cause for asylum, they are processed and then released, allowing them to wait in the United States for the resolution of their cases in the immigration courts.

In some of these cases, foreigners travel from the border to join relatives in other states. CBP typically gives them immigration documents and a deadline to check in at an ICE office when they arrive at their final destination. Once there, they can be relocated to an alternative detention program (ATD) or a follow-up is established that ensures their presence in Immigration Court before a judge, who will decide their futures in the United States.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and its corresponding protocols, the ICE office in Orlando receives a limited number of requests (60 people per day) and has had to reschedule appointments, causing enormous delays that harm this group of migrants, who must then request another appointment through an email. Various sources confirm that the ICE office is currently not responding to the emails, which aggravates the situation.

ICE office in Orlando. Illustration.

ICE and DHS claim they are trying to solve the issue and allow immigrants to continue their immigration process

From the ICE agency, there has been an assurance that several improvements are being made in the processing, staffing, and allocation of resources to improve the immigration process in Orlando and limit the delays.

Meanwhile, the DHS has put in place a comprehensive government-wide plan and established a Southwest Border Coordination Center (SBCC) to manage any potential increase in the number of migrants found in the border area. Widespread operational changes are being made to ICE’s civil detention system as it quickly adapts to the influx, contract changes, and other developments that help the agency fulfill its missions of homeland security, border security, and public safety.

According to the federal agency, work is being done to address current processing backlogs, and they urge non-citizens who were recently apprehended by CBP along the southwest border and received a Notice of Reporting (NTR) or parole to register with the corresponding ICE office after arriving at their destination.

Migrants that begin their immigration process should review ICE’s registration criteria and schedule an appointment using the agency’s online appointment scheduler. This ICE scheduler can help non-citizens avoid waiting on the phone or traveling to an ICE office to make an appointment. Additionally, it allows ICE to process non-citizens more efficiently while they await their immigration proceedings.

The Appointment Scheduler was activated in September of last year, is bilingual, and mobile compatible. The online tool is intended for non-citizens who were recently apprehended and released by Border Patrol along the southwest border.

If you are in need of immigration legal advice, do not hesitate to contact us! At the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon we have wide experience in immigration proceedings, family law, and personal injury and have successfully defended our clients for over 10 years. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 281-606-5362!

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