Trump has always been bad news for immigrants. Since his time as a developer and businessman, when he contracted an off-the-books group of Polish immigrant workers called “The Polish Brigade” and bilked them out of their pay after subjecting them to poor working conditions and substandard pay, his disregard for immigrants’ contributions has been evident.
After rising to power through a dark campaign against immigrants, Trump’s first executive orders have been to criminalize all undocumented immigrants, eliminating any rational approach such as enforcement priorities.
One of the most notorious elements of the Trump administration’s DHS memos on enforcement rules is that he intends to expand “expedited removal” of undocumented immigrants who have not been in the country more than two years.
This non-process process allows the removal of an immigrant without a hearing or appearance in front of a judge. It gives power to low-level immigration officers to investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain, conduct searches and act as judge. Agents may not give the immigrant any opportunity to contact legal counsel or gather evidence that may prevent their deportation.
The Trump administration sees these guidelines a way to “take the shackles off” immigration enforcers, said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in a press conference after the announcement of the DHS order.
The immigrant community’s fear is that expedited removal may be easily abused since there are no checks to the individual immigration agent.
“Expedited removal increases the chances that a person who is not subject to removal – such as a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident (LPR or green card holders), or asylum seeker – ends up being removed anyway,” writes Walter Ewing on the Immigration Impact blog.
This “unshackling” may put all undocumented immigrants in danger along with people who have legal presence in the country such as DACA recipients, refugees, legal permanent residents and even citizens.
What to do? Activists recommend immigrants carry at all times any proof of U.S. residency under their name such as rental agreements, invoices, membership cards, and bank statements with dates beyond the two-year threshold.
In these times of tribulation, immigrants should take proactive measures to ensure their permanence in their communities.