June 26, 2017

Preserving DACA proves little relief to NM immigrants

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — It’s been more than a week since President Donald Trump said he won’t seek deportation for the young people known as Dreamers brought to the U.S. as children – but not much has changed to give hope to immigrant families in New Mexico.

Trump’s decision to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for some 800,000 applicants is a small relief in light of the 11 million undocumented people still subject to deportation. Micah McCoy, communications director with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said he’s seen the immigration enforcement actions increase since then.

“Deportations in general have been ramped up quite a bit,” McCoy said. “And that’s having very serious consequences for families here in New Mexico.”

President Trump has cited “dangerous people” living in the country illegally as the reason for strictly enforcing deportations nationwide. In 2016, 29 percent of those arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement had no criminal record, and so far in 2017, that number has increased to 47 percent.

The El Paso area ICE office, which oversees New Mexico, reported 570 arrests between January 20 and April 29 – compared to 498 total for fiscal year 2016.

McCoy said he predicts the numbers will keep rising. Trump has said DACA recipients “shouldn’t be very worried.” But for the families of the more-than 85,000 people living undocumented in New Mexico, McCoy said reality varies greatly from what the president says – and the truth is terrifying.

“People are knocking on our door here at the ACLU, talking about ICE agents raiding their homes, being woken up by armed federal agents, banging on their doors and windows, coming for their loved ones,” he said.

The White House and Department of Homeland Security also have emphasized that the decision on DACA isn’t permanent. The program could still be revoked in the future.