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Archive for Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricane Ike takes aim at Gulf Coast

September 10, 2008

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— With Hurricane Ike steaming into the Gulf of Mexico, Texas emergency officials Tuesday stood ready to order 1 million people evacuated from the impoverished Rio Grande Valley and tried to convince tens of thousands of illegal immigrants that they have less to fear from the Border Patrol than from the storm.

Emergency planning officials were meeting all day to decide whether and when to announce a mandatory evacuation for coastal counties close to the Mexican border.

With forecasts showing Ike blowing ashore this weekend, authorities lined up nearly 1,000 buses in case they are needed to move out the many poor and elderly people who have no cars.

Farther up the coast, officials in the county surrounding Corpus Christi planned to begin busing people who have special medical needs inland today.

Federal authorities gave assurances they would not check people's immigration status at evacuation loading zones or inland checkpoints. But residents were skeptical, and there were worries that many illegal immigrants would refuse to board buses and go to shelters for fear of getting arrested and deported.

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