In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® offers some recommendations on how to prepare for the implementation of the new executive actions on immigration.
This is the column:
2017 has begun with a whirlwind of activity that has the immigrant community concerned, and in some cases, in a state of panic.
President Trump's new executive actions ordering the collaboration of law enforcement officers across the country with immigration agents, the suspension of the refugee program for a period of 120 days, and the ban on the entry of foreigners from seven Arab countries, among other measures, have caused great uncertainty about the future of undocumented and legal immigrants in the United States.
And now a draft of an executive action has been leaked indicating that President Trump is likely to eliminate DACA - the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Although that executive order has not yet been issued, one can understand people's confusion and fear.
Although the government carried out immediate enforcement by preventing certain immigrants from entering the country, we have seen multiple lawsuits alleging the unconstitutionality of the measures.
We have also seen how several mayors and police chiefs in cities around the country, such as Los Angeles, have expressed that they will not act as immigration agents and that they will defend the rights of immigrants, whether they are undocumented or not.
We have to wait to see what the order of priority of the measures will be and how they will be implemented. This does not mean that we should stand still and not prepare.
Some people have called me very concerned because they are afraid of President Trump's executive actions. But I ask them not to despair.
If you are in a temporary legal status program such as DACA or TPS, I recommend that you see an immigration attorney as soon as possible to see if there is a way to obtain permanent residency in the United States.
I know of several cases in which immigrants have the option to regularize their status permanently. However, either because they are comfortable with a temporary legal status or because of lack of money or information, they have not taken the next step. Immigrants in this situation cannot wait any longer.
It is clear that President Trump's administration plans to get tough on certain classes of undocumented immigrants, including those with criminal records and those who have recently arrived in the United States.
Please avoid being targeted by the authorities. Stay out of trouble with the law and prepare a plan of action in case you are detained by immigration authorities. If you have children, you should designate a guardian to take care of them if you are detained outside your home.
I recommend that you read the news carefully. You are going to see a lot of misinformation, especially circulating on social media. This happens when there is fear. Stay calm.
If you seek legal help, make sure you do not go to notarios, immigration consultants, paper fillers, community activists or multi-services because these people are not authorized to give you legal advice and could harm your situation.
Now more than ever, you need true experts. Make sure you go with an immigration attorney or accredited representative who is licensed in the United States, experienced, and has the ability to handle immigration proceedings correctly without jeopardizing your current situation. Your future in this country is at stake.