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For undocumented, fear of deportation looms

More than 1 million young undocumented immigrants trusted the government, came out of the shadows, now worried their families at risk of deportation By S. E. WILLIAMS, Contributing Writer SAN BERNARDINO  (NAM) — Millions of undocumented immigrants nationwide

More than 1 million young undocumented immigrants trusted the government, came out of the shadows, now worried their families at risk of deportation

By S. E. WILLIAMS, Contributing Writer

SAN BERNARDINO  (NAM) — Millions of undocumented immigrants nationwide trusted the U.S. government, came out of the shadows and applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Implemented in 2012, DACA enabled certain undocumented young people limited immigration status, who came to the U.S. as children.  Now, they are worried the government knows their identities, the identities of their families, and where they live, putting them at risk of deportation.

Latinos are more than half the population of the Inland Empire, representing more than two million of the area’s residents; according to the Public Policy Institute of California, however, nearly 242,000 of the area’s residents lack legal documentation.

Throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump called for the mass deportation of millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally. His election has left undocumented immigrants, their supporters, and many other groups including women, Muslims, feeling threatened on edge, as a result of his campaign rhetoric.

During an interview on 60 Minutes last week, Trump appeared to temper his position on immigration. When program moderator Lesley Stahl asked whether he still intended to deport millions of immigrants, he responded, “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminals and have criminal records — gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate [them].”

Trump’s opening deportation salvo was not much different from the criminal deportation policy of the Obama Administration, which has deported nearly 2.9 million illegal immigrants, mostly criminals. The policy has received harsh criticism; however, many immigrants without legal documentation are concerned Trump’s efforts may not end with merely the deportation of criminals.

“After the border is secure and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that are terrific people, but we are gonna make a determination at that,” Trump said. “But before we make that determination, it’s very important, we are going to secure our border.”

After having referred to immigrants as rapists and criminals while also vowing to immediately terminate what he identified as President Obama’s  executive order on illegal immigration, many immigrants now wait anxiously for Trump to decide when and how the other portions of his immigration deportation strategy/policy will unfold.

Immigrants do have some constitutional protections. The U.S. Constitution gives everyone in this country the right to “due process” even when someone is in the country illegally. These individuals must be processed through the immigration courts—courts that are heavily backlogged with more than 500,000 cases scheduled for hearings. The five immigration courts in California already have nearly 100,000 cases, alone.

In a statement to the press on Tuesday, California Senate President pro-tempore, Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles) responded to Trump’s statement on 60 Minutes, to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants immediately upon taking office.

“It is erroneous and profoundly irresponsible to suggest that up to three million undocumented immigrants living in America are dangerous criminals,” said de Leon. “It also appears to be a thinly-veiled pretense for a catastrophic policy of mass deportation that will tear apart families and weaken our economy.”

The IE Voice and New America Media

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