Trump’s elec­tion vic­tory trig­gers flood of im­mi­gra­tion ques­tions

Anxiety na­tion­wide among im­mi­grants

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

CHICAGO: Im­mi­gra­tion hot­lines are buzzing. Le­gal clin­ics are see­ing an in­flux of clients. Pub­lic schools are field­ing fran­tic ques­tions from par­ents and stu­dents. Since the elec­tion, Don­ald Trump’s tough talk on im­mi­gra­tion has stirred anxiety na­tion­wide among im­mi­grants re­gard­less of le­gal sta­tus. They are turn­ing to lawyers, schools, ad­vo­cacy groups and con­gres­sional of­fices for help. “We’re op­er­at­ing with a lot of un­knowns, and a cer­tain amount of fear comes with that,” said Vanessa Es­parza LÛpez, a manag­ing at­tor­ney at the Chicago-based Na­tional Im­mi­grant Jus­tice Cen­ter.

In Chicago, a hot­line run by the state’s largest im­mi­grant-rights group re­ceived more than 330 calls in the week af­ter the elec­tion, com­pared with the usual 100 or so. Den­ver school of­fi­cials sent a let­ter to par­ents in re­sponse to ques­tions about the elec­tion’s ef­fect on stu­dents liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally. The New York Le­gal As­sis­tance Group said its re­ceiv­ing 40 to 60 daily calls about im­mi­gra­tion, up from 20 to 30. The Coali­tion for Hu­mane Im­mi­grant Rights of Los An­ge­les re­ported 19 walkins on a sin­gle day, all with cit­i­zen­ship ques­tions.

Ur­gent in­quiries

The most ur­gent in­quiries have been from young peo­ple ben­e­fit­ing from a 2012 fed­eral pro­gram started by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion that al­lows im­mi­grants brought to the coun­try il­le­gally as chil­dren to avoid de­por­ta­tion and get work per­mits. About 740,000 peo­ple have par­tic­i­pated in the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals sys­tem. At­tor­neys say the pro­gram is vul­ner­a­ble be­cause it was cre­ated by ex­ec­u­tive or­der, not by law, leav­ing new po­ten­tial ap­pli­cants sec­ondguess­ing whether to sign up. Andrea Aguil­era, a 20-year-old col­lege stu­dent in subur­ban Chicago, feels in limbo with her DACA pa­per­work ex­pir­ing next year. She was brought across the Mex­i­can bor­der il­le­gally as a 4-year-old and largely kept her im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus se­cret un­til she was able to get a work per­mit through DACA four years ago. She’s since worked as a gro­cery store cashier and in­tern at a down­town fi­nan­cial com­pany. Two of her sib­lings are in the pro­gram; another is a US cit­i­zen. “It’s been hard to fo­cus on school,” Aguil­era said. “I just don’t know what’s go­ing to come next for us.”

Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump pledged to de­port the es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion im­mi­grants liv­ing in the coun­try il­le­gally and to build a bor­der wall. The Repub­li­can pres­i­dent-elect has not de­tailed how he will pro­ceed and re­cently walked back the num­ber of an­tic­i­pated de­por­tees.The Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, which ad­vo­cates for lower im­mi­gra­tion lev­els, ex­plained the spike in ac­tiv­ity as un­cer­tainty about whether ex­ist­ing laws will be en­forced by Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. Jon Feere, a le­gal an­a­lyst at the Wash­ing­ton D.C.based re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion, said those en­rolled in DACA were aware of the risks when they signed up. Others should have lit­tle con­cern. “Those who are in com­pli­ance with the law have noth­ing to worry about,” he said. Still, even im­mi­grants with per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus have had ques­tions since the elec­tion.

At­tor­neys and im­mi­grant or­ga­ni­za­tions said green card hold­ers feel new urgency to en­sure that pa­per­work such as a re­newal ap­pli­ca­tion is in or­der over fears that laws could change un­der a new ad­min­is­tra­tion. Most im­mi­grants can seek cit­i­zen­ship three to five years af­ter get­ting a green card.

CHICAGO: Andrea Aguil­era sits at the Erie Neigh­bor­hood House on Thurs­day.—AP

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