In his first post-election interview, President-elect Donald Trump says he wants to act fast to deport 2-3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal histories. That has some immigration groups wondering what Trump’s policies could mean locally.
“The phone has been ringing off the hook nonstop since Wednesday morning,” says Mark Naugle, a Salt Lake immigration attorney.
Those calling are worried about what a Trump administration could mean for them and their families — many of whom have permits under President Obama’s deferred action program.
“I don’t see how those [permits] are going to be revoked,” he says. “They would have to be physically confiscated I think in order for them to be invalid. The truth is, we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Naugle says the immigration system is already so clogged, it can take up to five years for a deportation case to make its way through the courts.
“It’s going to take longer than his administration — even if it’s an eight-year administration — to deport that many people,” says Naugle.
Utah has an undocumented population of about 80,000 people. Luis Garza runs the nonprofit Communities United, which provides education and advocacy for Latinos in the state. He says based on his initial remarks, Trump’s deportation strategy seems to be in line with Obama’s.
“Deportation numbers have skyrocketed over the last eight years,” he says. “And the focus has been on those people with a criminal background, and so I really don’t see how that will change.”
Garza does worry about a change in policy toward DREAMers, those young people brought to the country by their parents as children.
“Especially those youth that already have a work permit and already have protection from deportation (through the DACA program), those are the ones we are most concerned about,” he says.
He says many of those people are already in school or working and could lose their path to legal status under a new administration.
Trump told CBS that after securing the border, he would later make a “determination” on the remaining undocumented workers in the U.S.