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By David Sperling

We have a tradition in the United States of making New Year’s resolutions — for example, to lose an extra 10 pounds, to stop smoking or to learn a new language.

But immigrants — both legal and undocumented — have far greater concerns under the Trump administration   Millions of immigrants have one overriding goal for 2018 — to gain some sort of legal status and keep their families together.  Hundreds of thousands of immigrants with DACA and TPS are facing the imminent termination of a protected status that has enabled them to join the mainstream of society.

Without congressional intervention, hundreds of thousands of immigrants will lose their authorization to work and protection against deportation. In addition, there are more than 962,000 immigrants living in the United States with outstanding deportation orders who now may be taken into custody and physically deported if they have any contact with immigration or the police.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s, half of the immigrants with final orders are from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala. In fiscal year 2017, the Trump administration physically deported 226.000 immigrants. The vast majority were individuals who had criminal records, gang associations or otherwise deemed threats to public safety or national security.  However, 8 percent were deported after “collateral arrests” — meaning that they were not targets of immigration enforcement, but happened to be the wrong place at the wrong time.  This figure includes Legal Permanent Residents with old criminal records who were detained at the airport after returning to the United States.

In the past, under the Obama administration, many immigrants without criminal records and outstanding equities such as U.S. Citizen children were allowed to remain in the United States under an Order of Supervision, which entitled them to work authorization.  Those individuals are now being taken into custody when reporting to ICE, or, if they are fortunate, they are given a few weeks to return with a passport and a one-way ticket to their home country.

While illegal entries at the border plunged in 2017, ICE is increasingly focused on interior enforcement. These arrests have far greater consequences than border apprehensions because targeted individuals are often primary breadwinners or caretakers for family members who are often U.S. Citizens.

So let’s hope that 2018 brings not only good health, happiness and prosperity but also new laws and policies that will provide needed security for the most vulnerable among us.


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