I am completely stunned to be typing this, but Donald Trump has just been elected President of the United States. Mr. Trump built much of his campaign around the promises of intensified immigration enforcement.
Mr. Trump has promised that he will handle what he sees as the evils of immigration by building a wall on our southern border and by “enforcing the law.” He has also promised to end President Obama’s executive actions on immigration including DACA “on day one” of his presidency.
Enforcing the law, of course, is the President’s job. But “the law” explicitly lays out noncitizens’ rights due process rights in immigration court, including the right to be represented by an attorney, examine the evidence against them, present evidence, cross-examine government witnesses, and apply for relief from deportation. 8 U.S.C. §1229a. Those same laws that Mr. Trump has promised to enforce allow certain noncitizens without immigration status, even those without immigration status, to apply to stay here as lawful permanent residents. . 8 U.S.C. §§ 1255(a), (i). Those same laws allow undocumented citizens to apply to cancel their deportation proceedings if they meet certain criteria. 8 U.S.C. §1229(b). And those same laws that must be enforced guarantee noncitizens the right to a full hearing on applications for asylum if they fear persecution upon a return to their home countries. 8 U.S.C. §1158.
So to the extent Mr. Trump has promised to enforce the law, he has also promised to enforce the due process and potential for relief from removal that is built into our laws. It will be our job to make sure that he and the government agencies enforce those aspects of the law as well.
There is no way to sugarcoat this. The election of Donald Trump seems to have been a devastating development for immigrant communities. We are anxious and uncertain about all of what this will mean.
What we remain sure of is the extraordinary benefit brought to this country by immigrants. We are enriched because of their talents, cultures, work, and friendship. And we know for sure that no matter what happens in the wake of this election, we will passionately and aggressively fight for every one of our clients’ rights under the law.
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