The anxiety of immigrants in the United States is increasing more rapidly than ever before after the Department of Homeland Security recently announced President Donald Trump’s plan to eradicate illegal residents in the country.
“The concern has become a reality,” said Korean Resource Center chairman D.J. Yoon. “The attack on immigrants has started. Under this policy, anyone can be subject to investigation and can also be arrested. Even the legal immigrants could be arrested if he or she cannot immediately provide the paperwork to prove it.”
President Trump has instructed his administration to heavily enforce the country’s immigration laws, which has already led to the federal government identifying, arresting and even deporting undocumented immigrants regardless of whether they have committed crimes in the past.
Expedited removal, a similar program under former President Barrack Obama, was only exercised when an illegal immigrant was arrested within 100 miles of the U.S. border and stayed in the country for less than 14 days. Under President Trump, that program has been expanded to include all regions of the country and those who have been stayed in the U.S. for up to two years, categorizing them as removable aliens.
“Anyone can now be asked to provide their proof of residence in the U.S.,” Yoon said. “For those whose English isn’t great, simply responding could lead to getting arrested.”
Immigrant rights groups are encouraging undocumented residents to exercise their right to remain silent when asked by the law enforcement to provide a proof of their residence. They stressed that making false claims to escape could lead to more detrimental consequences.
Meanwhile, legal residents in the U.S. are now encouraged to be in possession of the document that will provide their status in the country.
Another point of discussion among Korean immigrants has been whether they should carry their green cards at all times.
Per regulation, carrying the green card at all times is advised. Even the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issue instructions for residents to carry their green cards.
However, it is still rare to find anyone who carries a green card in the wallet outside of their homes. Many suggest that the danger of losing the card is too risky to simply ignore. Some have gone on to carry pictures of their green cards on their smartphones.
“Under Section 287(g), state and local law enforcement officers can perform duties of federal immigration agents,” said Korean-American lawyer Jonathan Park. “Currently 38 local governments across 16 states are contributing to investigating immigrants. It’s better for everyone to always be in possession of their paperwork.”
It is especially important for those who travel to border cities, including San Diego and some parts of New Mexico, as well as states such as Arizona and Nevada to carry a proof of their legal status in the country.
Nonprofit magazine The Marshall Project reported that 17,206 people from L.A. County, 13,479 from San Bernardino County, 12,889 from Orange County, 31,278 from Arizona and 4947 from Nevada were deported between 2006 and 2013.
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