Local reaction to Trump’s Immigration Proposals
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF) – Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump made it loud and clear as to who needs to leave the country during Thursday night’s speech on Immigration.
“For those here illegally today; who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and one route only. Return home and apply for re-entry like everybody else under the rules of the new legal immigration system that I have outlined,” Trump said.
That statement means the estimated 11-million illegal immigrants in the U.S. will have to leave the country on their own or be forced out by a deportation task force if Trump becomes president. Chattanooga Immigration Attorney Terrence Olsen says many of his clients seeking citizenship have been worried by Trumps proposals.
“Over the past six months, I have had for to five clients a week come in to my office crying, upset and unable to sleep at night,” Olsen said.
According to the Migration Policy Institute based out of Washington, there’s roughly 11-million illegal immigrants in the United States. In Tennessee alone, there is an estimated 120,000 unauthorized residents. 56-percent of those residents come from Mexico. 33-percent of those immigrants have children that were born in Tennessee. 5-percent of the adults have children who came to Tennessee with their parents and have been raised as American. The question now is what happens to those children who are now enrolled in school or have grown up and started a career?
“That’s going to be devastating for them. That’s going to throw them back into a completely illegal situation. Some of them are going to loose drivers licenses. Some of them won’t be able to go school anymore if they are enrolled in higher education,” said MPI Director of Research Randy Capps.
“Individuals who have gone to school here or working here would just not have any where to go,” said Olsen.
The statement made by Olsen is backed up by the fact that other countries may not recognize them as citizens since they were raised in the U.S. Although Trump has eased his stance on a mass deportation on day one of his presidency, there are concerns over how to push 11-million people out the country.
“Number one, we can’t afford it as a country. Number two, we would have to use or rent out places or locations and three , we would have to hold hundreds of thousands of people in certain states. We haven’t done anything like that since internment camps of the 1940’s,” Olsen said.
During his speech, Thursday night, Trump said he was first going after illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. They would be the first to get deported.
“We will begin moving them out, day one. As soon as I take office, day one,” Trump stated.
According to data from the Migration Policy Institute, of the 11-million illegal immigrants who are currently in the U.S., roughly 300,000 have been convicted of felonies while nearly 400,000 have been convicted of serious misdemeanors.
Under the current Obama administration, illegal immigrants convicted of felonies and serious misdemeanors are already being kicked out of the country. According to the MPI’s math, a whopping 87-percent of illegal immigrants in the U.S. have no criminal convictions.
“So there not a priority for enforcement in the Obama administration and they don’t look like a priority under Donald Trump, but you can’t tell. Might they eventually run afoul or they overstay their VISA, that kind of ambiguity makes things worse because no one really knows if they are safe or not safe,” Capps said.
While Donald Trump has publicly touted some illegal immigrants as killers and rapists, Olsen said many undocumented residents have actually been the victims of violence from U.S. citizens.
“So what I found is that people illegally here live in fear; not only because they don’t have status but because they are preyed upon,” he stated.
Immigration experts say one of their biggest concerns with Trumps proposal is the use of racial profiling.
Legal racial profiling could lead to deporting immigrants for something as simple as jay-walking, which is considered a misdemeanor offense.