El Paso

Undocumented immigrant worried about future as DHS releases new immigration policies

El Paso woman in US illegally...

EL PASO, Texas - The Department of Homeland Security explained the Trump administration's plan to improve border security and immigration enforcement.

The memos released by DHS outline the construction of a border wall and an "aggressive plan to deport undocumented immigrants."    

Any immigrant who is in the country illegally and is charged or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime, will now be an enforcement priority, according to Homeland Security Department memos signed by Secretary John Kelly. That could include people arrested for shoplifting or minor offenses - or simply having crossed the border illegally.

America Guevara, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, has been living in the U.S. for nine years. She has four children, three of which are undocumented. 

"We're very scared," Guevara said in Spanish. "We have a home, we pay taxes...we've never been deported. We are honorable people. We are hard workers."

Guevara takes care of elderly people in El Paso for $50 a day. She said she's constantly on high-alert since President Trump was elected.

"Last week it was 10 at night and my husband wasn't home and he wasn't answering his phone," Guevara said. "I was so worried, I didn't know if he'd been detained."

She said her husband's car battery died and that's why he was late.

"I was so worried because of the house, I don't want to lose it," Guevara said. "I was getting ready to go out with one of my friends and look for him."

"I tell my son to be careful and not to go out so much," Guevara said. "I tell him that if something were to happen that he call me right away. I tell him not to say anything. I'll fight for them."

Carlos Spector, an immigration attorney and activist, said his business has increased by about 25 percent ever since President Trump became the republican nominee last summer.

Spector said he and many people in the immigrants rights community referred to former President Barack Obama as "the deporter in chief."

"The biggest difference was that Obama was not targeting the non-criminal community," Spector said. "The biggest problem with the new administration's position is that where's the money for all that? Where's the money for the creation of these detention (centers)? Where's the money for all the agents they want to hire?"

Here are some key points from the memos:

  • Getting rid of the so-called "catch and release" policy.
  • Undocumented immigrants had been allowed to stay in the states while waiting to appear in court.
  • So called 'dreamers' who were brought to the u-s as children are exempt from the policy.
  • CBP will focus on short-term detention of 12 hours.
  • ICE will focus on other detention capabilities.
  • CBP will hire 5,000 additional agents

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