News this week of sweeping Trump administration changes to United States immigration-enforcement policies is sparking a wave of fear among both legal immigrants and immigrants in the Miami Valley illegally, advocates say. The immigration crackdown means millions of people living in the country illegally could face deportation.
The Associated Press reports a Homeland Security memo indicates any undocumented immigrant who is charged, or even suspected of a crime, including people arrested for traffic violations, will be prioritized for enforcement. Enforcement previously focused on immigrants convicted of serious crimes, or people authorities considered threats to national security.
The policy changes have led to anxiety, even for people whose work or student visas are valid and legal.
Immigration attorney Catherine McCarthy says immigrant university students, high-tech and other workers living in the region on special visas fear they may be forced to leave the country before completing work or school programs, and not be able to return. McCarthy says it’s still unclear what the immediate impact of the immigration-policy changes could be.
“I don’t know how the orders are going to spread and how quickly they are going to spread and to whom, but I think a lot of people who have been here and working and succeeding and having their families here are going to face a lot of challenges financially when it comes to maintaining the family unit.”
She says her office has been flooded with phone calls from people seeking assistance and information about what to do and how to prepare their families. McCarthy says she has little advice to offer for people who are here illegally.
“I think people have a genuine concern, a genuine fear. They may become the focus of attention from government authorities in a way that they haven’t necessarily been before.”
McCarthy says she expects federal courts may eventually intervene on the Trump administration policy changes. In the meantime, she says, uncertainty, fear and confusion is widespread among her clients.
Her office is already assisting several international corporations whose employees have not been able to renew their valid, legal work visas – something, she says, that’s usually routine.