Immigration and Customs Enforcement is moving illegal immigrant detainees out of the path of Hurricane Harvey, which is due to hit Texas Friday night.
"ICE and CBP also seek to provide for the safety and security of those in our custody and to protect them from bodily harm in the event of a hurricane or a major destructive storm," ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a joint statement. "As such, ICE detainees from the Port Isabel Detention Center are being temporarily transferred to various other detention facilities outside the projected path and destruction of the hurricane."
Officials also said that while immigration laws would not be suspended during the storm, their implementation would be halted in key areas, such as "evacuation sites, or assistance centers such as shelters or food banks."
Though the statement did not mention roadside immigration checkpoints, Border Patrol told the Texas Tribune that it will remain open during the storm.
"Border Patrol checkpoints will not be closed unless there is a danger to the safety of the traveling public and our agents. Border Patrol resources, including personnel and transportation, will be deployed on an as needed basis to augment the efforts and capabilities of local-response authorities," the agency said in a statement. "The Border Patrol is a law enforcement agency and we will not abandon our law enforcement duties."
Border Patrol spokesperson Roberto Rodriguez added: "We're not going to impede anybody getting out of here, but at the same time we're a law enforcement agency, so we still have to conduct our duties."
The American Civil Liberties Union said keeping checkpoints open is a dangerous idea.
"The Border Patrol should never keep checkpoints open during any natural disasters in the United States," said Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns. "Everyone, no matter the color of their skin or background, is worth saving."
In late 2016, ICE and Border Patrol temporarily suspended enforcement measures during Hurricane Matthew.