TRUMP, SESSIONS PLEDGE TO GO AFTER THE UNDOCUMENTED
Immigrants without legal status in the US have reason to be afraid. President-elect Trump has vowed to make it a top priority to deport millions of undocumented immigrants from the US. And with his proposed attorney general Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to enforce our laws, things are about to get uncomfortable. While admittedly the Obama administration has deported more than its fair share of undocumented immigrants, per his 2014 Executive Order, President Obama re-prioritized targeting immigrants for removal in the following order: Priority 1 (threats to national security, border security, and public safety including criminal aliens); Priority 2 (misdemeanants and new immigration violators); and Priority 3 (other immigration violations including those with prior removal orders). The prioritizing of the removal of the undocumented in this manner largely left families who did not fall into these categories sighing with relief although the administration re-iterated its right to removal all immigrants illegally residing within US borders. But since the election of Donald Trump, things are about to change. President-electTrump and proposed Attorney General Sessions (Alabama Senator-R) have pledged to remove any and all immigrants in the US without legal status. The new administration will likely re-allocate resources to increase activity within as well as at the US borders.
This should be a wake up call to the millions of undocumented who up to now have lived relatively unmolested, particularly those living and working in sanctuary cities like San Francisco to take whatever steps are available to become legal. while the opportunity still exists. Admittedly, many undocumented have no avenue to legalize their status without a blanket amnesty. But others who have US citizen spouses and children or, thanks to President Obama’s 2016 executive action expanding the Provisional Waiver program, Lawful permanent resident spouses and children should take immediate steps to apply for legal status before the incoming president attacks that avenue too. While it seems counter-intuitive, even foolish, that anyone who has a way to legalize their status has not yet done so, there unfortunately exists a prevailing view in some immigrant communities they are untouchable, or can’t be deported. Or that ICE only goes after criminal aliens. But things are about to dramatically shift and not in a good way for them.
We are already receiving calls from family members whose loved ones are being picked up by ICE in raids, including family without criminal backgrounds. When ICE comes knocking is definitely NOT the time to decide to try to take steps to legalize your status. With US immigration law, time is always of the essence. All the more so if you or your loved one already has an outstanding removal order in play. Given all that is at risk, impacted immigrant families should take steps now to seek competent immigration counsel to excercise their options, if any. In the meantime, it is best to prepare for what is sure to be coming down the pipeline.