The support continues for dozens, or some nights even hundreds, of people seen camping outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office here in Orlando for past few days.
Many saying it’s been more than two weeks since their appointment date at the office, but the backlog has them still waiting. People in line say they’re simply trying to stay in the U.S. and obtain employment.
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Some of those waiting said they’ve created their own waiting list out here, allowing them to leave for the weekend. Now many people came back Sunday, waiting and hoping to be seen when the immigration office opens Monday morning.
Jacqueline Caraballa and her church in Sanford joined a motorcycle group outside the Orlando office on Sunday to show support for the many people waiting.
“Make them feel better,” Caraballa said. “Bring them a hot meal, spend some time, pray for them and just make their day easy.”
“There’s always a line. I tried four times,” Alfredo Hernandez said Monday.
Hernandez migrated from Cuba a month ago and left his family back on the island. He said his goal now is to get his paperwork done so he can start working and send money back home to help his relatives.
“You just have to be here in order to solve the problem,” he said.
Adriana Leonel, a migrant from Colombia is feeling frustrated because she said no one from the Orlando Immigration and Customs Enforcement office comes out to say anything and she even fears drinking water because there are no restrooms available.
“Estuve en un refugio y del refugio me dieron la citación para hoy,” Leonel said in her native language that she had been in a refugee center in Texas after she crossed the border last month and there she was given an appointment date and time for May 2 to report to an ICE office. Leonel is among the thousands of migrants who have crossed the U.S-Mexico border and have to report to an immigration office as part of their immigration proceedings.
Rafael Santana, a Cuban migrant, recently crossed the border and arrived in Orlando to join family already there.
Santana is now doing what he was told to do — report to an immigration and customs enforcement office. Santana told News 6 he arrived on Sunday with his sister who also has to be seen by an immigration official. Both had to spend the night in a family van waiting to go inside the office.
In an email to News 6, the office of Rep. Val Demings, who serves on the Homeland Security Committee, said she is working to hire additional border and immigration officers, immigration court officials, and other personnel in order to clear the backlog and that in March, Congress passed funding for additional staff for field offices like the one in Orlando.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent a new statement and said it is working to address current processing delays at the Orlando ICE office. Noncitizens that were recently apprehended by U.S Customs and border protection along the southwest border and given a notice to report or parole must check-in with ice after arriving at their destination.
This comes as two Central Florida Democrats, Rep. Darren Soto and Rep. Stephanie Murphy, sent a letter to President Joe Biden’s homeland security secretary and director of ICE last week, calling for more personnel and a more orderly appointment schedule.
“We take it seriously here in Central Florida,” Soto said. ”Overall, we see a huge backlog because for two years, there wasn’t much going on by ways of the pandemic. Now we have a bunch of folks — Venezuelan, Afghans, Ukrainians — who are now applying for work visas, travel visas.”