EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Immigration advocates say President Donald Trump’s announcement of stepped-up deportations will hurt many immigrants and mixed-status families in the El Paso area.
They also advise immigrants to be aware of their legal rights and not be afraid to exercise them if they come in contact with immigration authorities.
Robert L. Heyman, policy director for the Border Network for Human Rights, said thousands of immigrants in the El Paso-Las Cruces area would be at risk if president Trump carries out his threat.
“This is something that will lead to more family separations. It means more U.S.-born children without their parents, more husbands without their wives… There will be a very big human impact if what the president is saying gets carried out; it’d be immensely harmful to our community,” Heyman said.
Immigration activists concur with political observers in that the initiative is political in nature, coinciding with the announcement of President Trump’s reelection campaign.
“It’s coming from a place of hate. He’s doing this now because he feels it will unify his political base as he launches his presidential campaign,” Heyman said.
Immigration activists say they’re leery of reports that the initiative will focus on new arrivals and people with standing deportation orders.
“We don’t necessarily trust the administration in who they say they will target. One of the first thing they did when (Trump) took office was to do away with the priority enforcement targets of the Obama administration. I think they will cast a much wider net and millions of people across the country and here would be at risk,” Heyman said.
The Border Network for Human Rights urged immigrants to be aware of their legal rights amidst stepped-up deportations.
- Knowing that civil rights and constitutional protections are for everyone who is present in the United States, not just citizens.
- Exercising their right to remain silent when question by police or immigration agents. “All you have to do is identify yourself; you don’t have to give them any more information,” Heyman said.
- Demanding to see a search warrant signed by a judge before allowing police or immigration agents into a home or a vehicle.
- Asking to speak to an attorney or requesting one if unable to afford.
“It’s important to know your rights and to be able to keep your wits about you and be assertive if you ever come in contact with immigration,” Heyman said.