American Gateways is profoundly concerned with the Trump Administration’s recently announced plans to significantly ramp up immigration enforcement actions throughout the country. The operations planned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) officials will likely target individuals in the interior of the country who have been issued a final removal order by an immigration judge after having been denied relief or failing to appear for a scheduled hearing date.
American Gateways maintains that mass enforcement actions pose serious risks for the immigrant community as they rarely involve the safeguards necessary to protect the constitutional rights of immigrants and their families. “We want to push back against ICE’s narrative that these actions are targeting people who are allegedly ‘gaming the system’ or fugitives,” explains Rebecca Lightsey, Executive Director. “Immigration matters are both unique and extremely complex. An outstanding removal order does not tell you whether someone might have other relief available outside the courts and rarely does it reflect malicious intent on the part of our clients.”
Meanwhile, the prospect of raids instills fear, uncertainty, and distrust within our communities. “They have the potential to destroy peoples’ lives and are punitive against family members of those who are targeted, many of whom may be U.S. citizens or have lawful status in this country,” said Lightsey.
In response to this new threat, American Gateways is stepping up its outreach efforts to ensure that Central Texas immigrant communities are empowered with the information they need to protect themselves and their loved ones. Over the coming days and weeks, our offices in Austin, San Antonio, and Waco will be hosting and organizing community trainings on basic constitutional rights and safety planning as well as distributing information in our offices and through social media.