The New Year has brought a new level of fear and concern among many people who contact me. Since the beginning of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers have been conducting a series of raids across the Carolinas, Georgia, and other parts of the United States. The government’s public announcements state that the agents are carrying out the administration’s immigration priorities as outlined in a November 20, 2014, memorandum.
That memorandum identifies several categories of individuals as high priorities for removal. Understandably, the administration places terrorists, gang members, and serious criminals in the highest category for removal. However, another high priority category includes those who entered the United States unlawfully after January 1, 2014. Due to current social conditions in Central America, many of these recent entrants are individuals trying to escape violence plaguing their countries. It is this group that has been coming to me with questions: Why am I being targeted? Can I stay in the United States? Will they put me in jail? What if I think I will be harmed if I return to my country?
These are all good questions that, unfortunately, have no easy answers.