Now that Donald Trump has been elected to become our next president, many of us in the immigration world, are waiting with bated breath as to how, or if, he will change our immigration laws or policies as he claimed he would during his presidential campaign. Trump claimed that he would deport millions of aliens on his first day of office, and would build a wall across our borders. So, it is not a surprise that many undocumented aliens in the U.S. are filled with anxiety and nervousness about what may happen to them, their close friends, family, or even neighbors.
First, overhauling the current immigration laws takes time. Making changes to our current legal process cannot be done overnight, and will most likely be met with much opposition, if not years-worth of litigation, and appeals upon appeals. On a smaller scale, if the policies are changed to deporting every undocumented person in the U.S., the problem will be that there still is a removal process, which includes removal proceedings in Immigration Court. Further, the immigration courts are already backlogged with cases, with people having to go through the removal process for up to 5 years, or sometimes more. Then, there are appeals processes that can also take years. In short, deportation of an individual does not happen overnight.
Trump’s policies ignore some of the logistical issues that exist with implementation. For example, he has not outlined how to obtain the manpower, money, or time to deport millions of people overnight. The same issue exists with his idea of building a wall across our southern border. However, this is not to say that we should not be concerned about what Trump can do to our immigration system. Trump, as the president of the United States, has the authority to make some critical changes to our current immigration policies that can devastate some of the pro-immigration policies that exist today. For example, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals allows certain children who arrived at a very young age, to obtain a work permit and “defer” their deportation. This policy is one of the few policies that can be obliterated quite quickly.
What is important for undocumented people to do at this time, is to understand their rights and have a plan if ICE knocks on their door. Speak to an experienced attorney if you have any questions about your current status.