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No government guarantees for illegal immigrants caught up in Katrina

[JURIST] The US government has so far held back from making any guarantee to illegal immigrants caught up in aftermath of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] that they will be able to seek help from federal agencies without fear of arrest on immigration grounds. After the September 11 terror attacks, federal authorities made it clear that illegals who had been victimized or who had lost family or friends could seek help freely. A spokesperson for the US Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that "[n]o one should be afraid to accept our offers to provide safety", food and medical support, but would go no farther, although DHS officials have also said on Spanish language TV that "we are not going to ask you who you are or what you are because our priority is to save lives." Mexican President Vicente Fox says the US has agreed not to prosecute and deport Mexican nationals [AP report] found to be without documentation during the recovery process, but this has not been confirmed by US sources and it's not clear if all federal departments will comply. Estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center set the number of illegal immigrants in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama at between 20,000 and 35,000. AP has more.

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