Without immigration reform, even those here legally are in danger of deportation
BY CHERYL LITTLE
Fifteen months after taking office, President Trump is fulfilling his pledge to build a “great, beautiful” wall to keep immigrants out. Even if no concrete is ever poured, the wall is effectively being built through executive orders, procedural changes, detentions and deportations.
The government is chipping away at fundamental laws and policies that protect immigrants’ basic rights. Each week, there are new hurdles for immigrants and the advocates who represent them.
This month, Americans for Immigrant Justice is releasing a comprehensive report, “Building the Wall: A New War on Immigrants.” The report describes the systemic dismantling of immigrants’ due-process rights, much of which is occurring under the radar. Policies are in constant flux, the pace of the changes is staggering and the damage being done is incalculable.
The number of immigrants arrested and held in detention is skyrocketing, and innocent children are especially vulnerable, afraid to go to school because their loved ones may not be home when they return. Almost 6 million U.S.-citizen children live with an undocumented parent or family member.
Forget about the “bad hombres.” Long-time residents who have worked hard, paid taxes and have no criminal records fill the growing number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds. Arrests of noncriminal undocumented immigrants increased by 150 percent in early 2017, compared with the same period the previous year. While Presidents Bush and Obama focused on deporting criminals and those who posed threats to national security, Trump has made all undocumented immigrants priorities for removal.
That includes roughly 900,000 immigrants with prior removal orders who were able to check-in with ICE under previous administrations and were granted legal work permits. Now they risk deportation when they show up for their annual appointments.
Another million-plus immigrants — DREAMers, young people brought to this country as children, and holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted after disasters in their countries — have been told to pack their bags. Many of these people have lived and worked legally in the United States for decades. Even immigrants eligible for green cards are threatened with deportation while their cases are pending.
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