With More Undocumented Immigrants at Risk of Deportation, This Is How Advocates Will Fight Back

Lead Photo: Photo: Darren Hauck / Getty Images
Photo: Darren Hauck / Getty Images
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For weeks, amidst news that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents had detained, removed and targeted undocumented immigrants previously considered low priority for deportation, advocates feared that we were entering an era of heightened danger for the undocumented community. On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security released two memos that laid out the sweeping immigration guidelines that will inform its actions. The DHS will widen its scope by arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants – even if they haven’t committed serious crimes. As the New York Times reports the memo calls for expediting the deportation process, hiring 10,000 new ICE agents, turning police officers into immigration agents, and building additional detention facilities.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the memos outlined that “the No. 1 priority is that people who pose a threat to our country are immediately dealt with.” This policy already existed under President Barack Obama’s administration. Obama – known as the deporter-in-chief – deported 2.5 million undocumented immigrants, more than any other president, during his tenure. DHS’ new procedures vastly expand who is a target for deportation.

As our immigration system becomes increasingly vindictive, what goes on at the border will also change. During the Obama administration, officials released people who crossed the border seeking asylum and gave them a court date hearing.

Though most requests end in rejection, by then, it’d be more difficult to locate these individuals, the Boston Globe notes. The so-called catch-and-release program will come to an end after the creation of added detention facilities. Alternatively, immigration agents may deport immigrants to Mexico to wait out the immigration process, even if they’re not originally from the country.

Border Patrol agents have been anxiously awaiting a president like Trump, an unnamed officer told the New Yorker. “They love Trump’s straight-up, no-nonsense talk,” the Border Patrol agent said of his colleagues. “It’s how the guys want to talk. Anything Trump does, they’re going to defend him at all costs.” With morale at an all-time high, immigration agents are being given carte-blanche to go after the undocumented community. Between 2005 and 2012, more than 2,000 CBP agents were arrested on misconduct charges. Now, they might feel more empowered.

The NYT notes that immigration lawyers and advocates remain hopeful that the courts can mitigate the affect of these policies. Following Trump trying to enact a Muslim ban – which restricted immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries but appeared to also affect other groups – judges challenged him. Recently, a Ninth Circuit appellate court ruled against Trump’s executive order, citing his previous statements urging for a Muslim ban. (Trump’s team is now working on a new order targeting Muslims.)

 In the meantime, immigration activists will continue working to educate and protect the immigrant community. As fear and panic set in, here are a few ways immigration activists will fight in the short and long term:


They're pushing to expand sanctuary.

In sanctuary cities, police departments don’t cooperate with ICE agents. While sanctuary cities can’t keep ICE out of homes, it does offer some protection. Mijente’s response to the DHS memo includes pushing for more cities to become sanctuaries for immigrants. On its website, Mijente set up a page that helps people find how they can ask their mayors to make the move. In an email, Mijente stated, “As DHS becomes the enforcement arm of Trump’s fascist agenda, it will be the responsibility of mayors and city councils to protect their constituents.”

Learn more here.


They're leading the #Resistencia.

The folks at Latino Victory Fund are equipping the general public on the knowledge they’ll need to actively resist Trump. Titled, #Resistencia, the series aims to teach how to safely rally, what tools are necessary, and more. The first online training takes place today, and Remezcla has teamed up with Latino Victory Fund for a Facebook Live session that takes place at 10:45 a.m ET.


They're breaking down the issues.

The immigration system is complex enough on its own. With new policies being pushed through, everything that you thought you knew could quickly change. Therefore, immigrant rights organizations have come together to create Informed Immigrant. “In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, millions of documented and undocumented immigrants face increased uncertainty around their status in the United States,” the website reads. The site, which is available in English and Spanish, offers lists of suggested legal resources and other tips.

Check it out here.