Scores wait in the Florida heat for days outside the ICE facility

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Members of the Central Florida congressional delegation want to know why dozens of people, including young children, have to wait outside for days to get appointments with officers. federal immigration authorities due to delays at an immigration and customs office. Execution facility in Orlando.

Over the past week, as many as 250 people have waited outside the ICE facility each day for an appointment with immigration officials, sometimes sleeping in cars and tents as they were biding their time, according to a letter from U.S. Representatives Darren Soto and Stephanie. Murphy to US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“Addressing the current backlog at the Orlando ICE facility is critical to ensuring the safety of immigrants seeking refuge,” the Democratic lawmakers said in their letter last Friday. “We ask that you work quickly and diligently to investigate and remedy these delays.”

Those waiting for dates over the past few days have brought umbrellas and tents for shelter from the Florida sun and heat. Among those waiting were people who had recently been apprehended along the southwestern border and needed to register with ICE after arriving at their destination, the agency said.

In an emailed statement, ICE said it is working to address delays at the Orlando office and encouraging people to book appointments online to avoid having to wait in person at the Orlando office. ‘ICE or on the phone. The agency blamed the processing delays on the pandemic.

“ICE continues to make processing, staffing and resource allocation improvements to increase processing and limit adjudication delays,” the statement said.

In a tweet, U.S. Representative Val Demings said the delays were representative of a flawed immigration system that Congress has failed to fix for decades.

“We are a nation of laws, and Orlando immigrants who act in good faith to fulfill their legal obligations have experienced unacceptable delays due to staffing shortages,” said Demings, a Democratic congresswoman running for the U.S. Senate. .