Legal immigrants that have a work permit and are legally allowed to leave and work in the United States have now started fearing for their future, the current president making it clear that he does not tolerate immigrants, doing anything in his power to deport as many as he can. Now, even those who are backed by the law find it difficult to remain calm when seeing a police officer on the street.
Fear of Deportation Could Harden On-Going Criminal Investigations
Even if some immigrants are protected by the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals or have already been granted a working visa, they are growing increasingly worried that the US government might change its mind and send them back to their home countries.
The problem has become so big that police officers are concerned about losing key witnesses in on-going cases. Moreover, immigrants, both legal and illegal, have become so reluctant to speak to the authorities that the police are finding it hard to run investigations.
Out of fear of deportation, victims are no longer reporting crimes and witnesses are refusing to speak out, letting criminals have their way throughout the country. The travel ban was a catalyst that started a reaction of fear the likes America has never seen before.
New Jersey Immigrants Seem to Suffer the Hardest
Several organizations meant to provide a helping hand to immigrants have tried to speaking out to both documented and undocumented immigrants, offering unwavering support.
According to the New Jersey Alliance for Criminal Justice official website, immigrants are reluctant to speak to anyone wearing a uniform, not being able to differentiate between a police officer and an immigration agent. The problem goes deeper as:
“immigrants are less likely to report crimes, act as witnesses in criminal investigations and prosecutions, or provide intelligence to law enforcement.”
Joanne Gottesman, director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic and professor of law at Rutgers University, describes the fear she hears in her clients’ voices lately. Even though she is running a small non-profit organization meant of offering advice to immigrants, the number of people who keep calling increases by the day, a clear sign that the immigrant community is currently dominated by fear and uncertainty.
For the moment, the authorities are advising legal immigrants to stay calm as they cannot be deported if they have all the proper documentation. Non-profit support organizations are available throughout the country if immigrants have more extensive questions about the validity of their paperwork and the conditions of their work visa.
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