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Immigration

Hundreds of people camp outside Orlando immigration offices seeking appointments

The migrants waiting for their appointment include people seeking asylum, working towards their citizenship, or trying to obtain work permits

Migrants camping outside ICE in Orlando
Migrantes acampan frente a oficinas del ICE en Orlando | @ryanelijah

April 29, 2022 7:53pm

Updated: April 29, 2022 9:36pm

Hundreds of people are camping outside of Orlando’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, waiting to get an appointment to speak with an agent. 

Men, women, and children are lining up and securing their spots in the queue as they desperately seek to process their immigration cases. Many have brought along tents, chairs, and umbrellas to withstand the long lines. 

"It’s been pure hell because they have to sleep on the sidewalk," Galo Delgado told Fox 35 Orlando, whose nephew has been waiting weeks to speak to an agent. "They have to do things that they’ve never done. There are no facilities here to go to the bathrooms." 

“These people want to make a better living in this country and they're being treated like animals,” Cuban-American Alejandro Rodriguez said.

Undocumented immigrants who cross the border are required to come to these offices to process their cases or they could potentially face deportation or detention, an ICE spokesperson said. 

The migrants waiting for their appointment include people seeking asylum, working towards their citizenship, or trying to obtain work permits. 

However, Orlando’s ICE offices have been closed for almost two years since the pandemic began. As a result, the immigration offices are facing a massive backlog of cases. 

The agency resumed its Enforcement and Removal program this month after Covid-19 safety protocols were lifted. Many migrants received a letter asking them to report to the offices. However, as the crowds of people started showing up, ICE was left without enough staff to process the cases. 

Orlando’s ICE offices are designed to be able to process about 100 people a week, yet a significantly larger number of migrants received the notice to report, said John Gihon, an immigration attorney.

"Don't risk your own personal safety or the safety of your family by camping out, by living on the street just to try to comply with an appointment that you're probably not going to be able to get into the building," Gian said.