Hurricane Sandy’s devastating impact along the eastern seaboard created an immediate need for disaster assistance. In support of response and recovery efforts, CRCL activated its Disaster Civil Rights Coordination Team (DCCT) prior to landfall and during the storm to address potential civil rights and civil liberties concerns involving disaster response and recovery efforts.
CRCL’s DCCT translated and disseminated a joint ICE-CBP statement concerning the evacuation of detainees/detention facilities, which affirmed that there would be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or sheltering related to the storm. This statement was translated into Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, and Vietnamese; and was sent out to Federal and community partners, and immigration advocates, as well as posted on CRCL’s webpages and Facebook page. The DCCT also collaborated with FEMA’s Office of Equal Rights and Office of Disability Integration and Coordination to develop a statement and guidance for states, localities, and other Federal recipients on their obligations to carry out disaster response and recovery activities in a non-discriminatory manner.
CRCL also made a significant contribution by deploying one of our DCCT staff to FEMA’s Joint Field Office (JFO) in New York to address disability-related and other civil rights issues on the ground. While at the New York JFO, our staff member supported FEMA’s Disability Integration Advisor in conducting field assessments of mass care shelters and disaster recovery centers to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities; engaging with community stakeholders and the New York City Mayor’s Office to identify and address disability issues; launching a housing initiative to integrate disability accessibility considerations into all aspects of the Federal disaster housing mission being coordinated out of the JFO; and collaborating with all levels of government to ensure that repairs are made to critical accessibility features such as ramps, lifts, and electricity for power wheel chairs.