The Trump administration’s continued threats to forcibly round up, detain and deport those who do not have perfect immigration documentation is causing fear and confusion among many citizens.
Last week, President Donald Trump kicked off his reelection campaign. In order to keep his base happy, he issued a statement that his Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers would begin aggressive removals of thousands, possibly millions, of undocumented people from cities across America. He croaked, barked and spoke in convoluted terms about his intentions.
But in a manipulative turn, he then took the threat back a few days later, saying he would give Democrats in Congress two weeks to come up with an immigration deal—he would indeed sic his minions on undocumented asylum seekers nationwide, in the process, disrupting children, families and homes, or something something horrid like that if Congress does not come up with a compromise deal.
Albuquerque joined a number of other cities including Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, New York and others in expressing no support for the plan or its threatened deployment. Municipal governments also said no to resources or help for any such sweep by Immigration Customs Enforcement officers. “We condemn the current administration’s attacks on immigrants, threats of mass deportations, raids, child separation, and deaths in detention. We are a city where all are welcome. We will stand with immigrants in promotion of human rights and dignity. We do not and will not use local resources to assist potential ICE actions in any way,” Mayor Tim Keller said via Twitter in response to these un-American and draconian threats.
In the May 22 segment of “New Mexico In Focus” Facebook Live, immigration attorney Rebecca Kitson took on a fraction of the complex topics of asylum, refugees and immigration and chatted it down to understandable points. Kitson said she recently did some volunteer legal work at a migrant shelter in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where a bulk of the children and unaccompanied minors are held. “Our laws do allow for people to apply for these forms of relief and not be held in inappropriate conditions,” Kitson said. “There are a lot of families and kids because just like anywhere around the world, it is our instinct to protect them and provide the best for them.” There are about 850,000 people facing deportation currently, Kitson said.
There are five qualifying elements in a credible fear claim. An asylum seeker must prove they are being persecuted because of at least one of the elements upon which asylum is granted. There must be a fear of harm or persecution based—race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social affiliations. Natural disaster relief can also work as an element for asylum. Kitson said there is still family separation going on because of the legal terms defining family ties. For instance, a child with its mother may not be separated but a child with its grandmother or other family member probably will be separated. “A lot of harm is being done in the process,” she said.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, if you are undocumented and are stopped by any law enforcement officer including Border Patrol, you have the right to remain silent and to ask for an attorney. You do not have to provide information such as where you were born, how long you have been in the country, etc. Remember silent is silent. Refusing a search does not give agents probable cause for a search. Never provide fake documents or say you are a US Citizen if you are not. You can videotape interactions during vehicle stops, on private property or at checkpoints, but not at ports of entries or on government property.
• Let’s start with the words we use. From your own vocabulary, take out the words illegal and alien, and don’t generalize people along the lines of race or ethnicity. Keep those around in check by correcting them politely. Use more accurate words, such as “undocumented” and “naturalized citizen,” in your conversations, as this humanizes members of these marginalized communities.
• Never, never, ever out your undocumented family, friends, neighbors or coworkers. It is the undocumented person’s choice to be vocal or to be quiet about their immigration status. They must weigh the risks associated with publicly outing themselves. Outing undocumented citizens puts them in danger.
• Stand up for your undocumented family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and all workers hiding in the shadows. Use your privilege to protest, call and write letters to representatives all the way up the chain. Take action when you see injustice.
• Help provide food, shelter, transportation or donate to one of the several groups working 24/7 to help migrants on many levels. Let the undocumented know that you care, that you see them and you have their back.
What is needed is not a border fence but more humanitarian aid, including funds to help establish and maintain agricultural systems and civic infrastructure (including police) in Central American countries experiencing catastrophic changes. These changes are due to global warming and endemic warfare among drug gangs and cartels. These issues have caused an estimated one percent of the entire population of Guatemala and Honduras to be on the move, only to be apprehended at the border by American government officers and returned to the danger and dysfunction of their homeland.