MALDEF Document Explains Immigrants' Rights Under Trump Presidency
The moment people across the U.S. learned Donald Trump would be the next president, many people cheered in victory, while others shook in fear. In particular, immigrants across the U.S. (illegal and legal) are now wondering what will happen to them and their families.
However, whether people are for mass deportation or against it, many people do not understand how the laws of the country work. To help with that, MALDEF: The Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America released "Immigrants' Rights Under a Trump Presidency: FAQs for Students, Educators & Social Service Providers."
"During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants 'criminals' and vowed to build a border wall, rescind the Obama Administration's DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) initiatives, and 'mass deport' millions of undocumented immigrants," said the document. "Many families feel afraid and confused. [Here] are the answers to common questions about what we know at this point about what a Trump presidency might mean for immigrants."
According to MALDEF, undocumented immigrants will not be immediately deported as many media outlets and people claim. Although it's not clear currently what approach the Trump Administration will take toward undocumented families, individuals without status who are present in the U.S. have certain legal and constitutional rights.
"You have a right to a hearing and to have a judge review your case," said MALDEF. "That process can take years in some cases, and you can remain in the U.S. until a final decision is made. Other constitutional protections prevent certain enforcement tactics, and may present a basis to challenge overly aggressive attempts at immigration enforcement by the federal government."
In regards to DACA, Trump can decide to cancel this initiative if he chooses; however, it's unclear if Trump will immediately do so.
"Even if DACA is terminated, whether or not your lawful presence and work permit will cease right away depends on the announcement by the President and how it is implemented by the federal government."
MALDEF officials also noted that deporting over 700,000 DACA recipients would be extremely time-consuming and expensive.
"DACA recipients are also near the bottom of the government's priority list for deportation," said MALDEF. "However, Trump's actions are difficult to predict, so families should take precautions now by discussion other legal options with a qualified immigration lawyer. There would also certainly be a legal challenge to use private data submitted under DACA for enforcement activity."
For people considering applying for DACA, MALDEF said people need to consider their circumstances and discuss that with an immigration lawyer. Applying for DACA at this point will provide the government personal information that can put families at risk should Trump rescind DACA.
For those individuals, however, whose deferred action is set to expire within 150 days, MALDEF officials encourage those people to apply to renew.
"If you have urgent humanitarian reasons to travel outside of the U.S., you may seek permission to travel by seeking 'Advance Parole' with USCIS (Form-I131)," explained MALDEF. "The government already has your personal information, so you are not creating a new risk by applying for renewal unless your situation has changed in a way that you might not be able to be eligible for DACA any more, for example, a criminal conviction. If you travel on 'Advance Parole,' be sure to return before Jan. 20, 2017."
As for the DAPA initiative, MALDEF explained the implementation of these initiatives has been halted by lawsuit, but MALDEF is "vigorously defending these programs in court." Despite that, Trump can rescind these initiatives if he chooses.
For those immigrants who have pending immigration petitions, non-DACA applications pending with the USCIS should continue with normal processing according to current laws. MALDEF said people wanting to learn about other options on how to avoid deportation can visit with an immigration lawyer. But keep in mind that there are many scams that take place, so officials encourage people to visit immigrationlawhelp.org for more information about non-profit legal service organizations by state.
As for those individuals who have citizenship even if their parents are undocumented, MALDEF said the U.S. Constitution grants citizenship to all people born in the U.S. regardless of their parents' immigration status.
"There is not enough support to amend the Constitution to remove birthright citizenship, and any attempt to amend the Constitution would take years and would likely apply only to those born after adoption of an amendment," said MALDEF. Therefore, the notion that Trump can deport citizens if their parents are illegal is simply fallacy.
Next, Trump cannot change the laws that provide in-state tuition/admission for students because those laws are passed by the states. Therefore, admission for undocumented college students won't end unless states make those changes.
In regards to going to the hospital, reporting crimes, filing for VAWA/U visa/T visa, ICE raids, and sending money to relatives in Mexico, MALDEF said the following: under federal law, doctors and staff are required by federal law to keep personal information private, so people should not fear going to the hospital; people should also still report crimes when they happen. MALDEF said most police officers are only interested in investigating crime. Those individuals who are a crime victim may also be eligible for a visa that will allow them to stay in the U.S.
Also, there is no reason to delay filing for the VAWA/U visa/T visa because it is established in U.S. law and cannot be changed by the President acting alone.
For people curious about ICE raids, MALDEF said the Immigrant Legal Resource Center has created Red Cards that provide information about how to assert individual constitutional rights during a raid, and encourages families to visit ilrc.org/red-cards for details.
People can also continue sending money to families in Mexico because the government cannot confiscate it. Companies that transfer money among relatives from the U.S. to Mexico do not track client immigration status.
"Even if companies could distinguish between legal and undocumented immigrants in their clientele, seizing funds based on national origin or immigration status would be unconstitutional and would be immediately challenged in court," said MALDEF.
Finally for Latino immigrants who feel that half the people in the U.S. hate them, MALDEF said that's not true.
Officials noted, "A 2016 poll shows 79 percent of Americans favor providing a way for undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents."
To view the original MALDEF document, click here.