President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that makes substantial changes to America’s immigration system. Now, immigration organizations throughout the state are preparing in the event that federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) step up enforcement in Texas.
Many are calling these claims wrong and irresponsible, dismissing them as rumors and calling raids from I.C.E. in Texas unlikely, but possible.
Immigration lawyers are concerned over widespread work site enforcement actions that happened in 2006 and 2007 when I.C.E. cracked down on 1,300 undocumented immigrants working at six meat processing plants across six states. Some are worried this could be a sign of future federal enforcement efforts to come.
In Central Texas, activist groups are going so far as to train volunteers on how to interact with law enforcement officials, local and federal, if an immigration raid breaks out in the area. The training is provided through a new program (borrowed from movements in Philadelphia) the organization started called “Sanctuary in the Streets."
So far, they have trained up to 130 people, but the plan is to train 500 volunteers in preparation of federal enforcement efforts.
President Trump’s immigration orders are reminiscent of Secure Communities, the country’s former immigration program. Immigration lawyers say this is very similar to what happened when President Bush was in office, when business raids were initiated at factories and restaurants, something that the Obama administration moved mostly away from in favor of other targets.
Attorneys are telling their clients to prepare now for possible raids by getting their personal affairs in order, instructing them not to sign removal orders, to ask to speak to an attorney, and to ask for a hearing before an immigration judge if they are arrested or detained.
Before a federal judge's suspension of the ban, Trump’s executive order temporarily banned all immigration for citizens of seven majority Muslim countries for 90 days. (Those were, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.) The order also called for Homeland Security and State Department officials, along with the director of national intelligence, to review what information the government needs to fully vet would-be visitors and come up with a list of countries that don’t meet those requirements. The order stated the government would give countries 60 days to provide the information or citizens from those countries would be barred from travel to the United States.
GREEN CARD HOLDERS AND DUAL CITIZENS:
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a statement Sunday declaring that, absent information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, residency would be a “dispositive factor in our case-by-case determination.” That means citizens of the seven target countries who hold permanent U.S. residency “green cards” will not be barred from re-entering the U.S., as officials had previously said.
Officials also clarified Sunday that dual citizens who are nationals of one of the seven target countries and a country that’s not on the list will be subject to additional security screenings, but will likely be allowed through.
UPDATE: This article has been updated for clarity.