The files are not imported... pointers reference the original files and so you mus NOT delete the originals or move them. If you move them you will need to re-associate them when you next start Premiere Elements.
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As Paul_LS states, the original "Captured" files are NOT edited by PE. This is true for most NLE programs. Only a reference is made in the Project file, as to what is being done to that/those file(s). PE is a non-destructive editor.
Those media files are "referenced" and MUST be available to PE. If their location has been moved, you can re-direct PE to where they are. This might be an easy task, depending on the folder/sub-folder structure, or might be a real headache. If deleted, an unrecoverable, one must re-Capture from the tape. If these Captured files differ, in any way, PE will not be able to use them, and a lot of work lies ahead. Even where I have the original tapes, I always work from a copy or have an archived version, of my Captured files. This might be as simple as just doing a copy of these to an external HDD, until the Project is finished. I want exact dupes of the Captured files, so I will NOT have to re-Capture and run the risk of having any discrepencies between what I get, and what I have used in PE. Even with this redundancy, when I finish a Project, I use the Archvier (Project Manager in PrPro) to copy over every Asset, plus the Project file, to an external HDD. As Project Manager will often miss Assets, like SmartSound files, I make sure to check. Do not know if Archiver is more perfect in this regard.
To restate: until you KNOW that you are done with the Project, do not Delete, Move or Rename your media files.