Local attorneys say they are getting more calls for help from legal immigrants.
Charlotte Alvarez is a staff attorney at The Immigration Project, a local nonprofit that helps immigrants with legal issues. She says she and a team of lawyers have been busy trying to assure legal immigrants they will be able to stay or connect with loved ones while explaining how they may be affected by potential legislation.
Alvarez says more than 10,000 immigrants live in the Peoria-area and the community is diversified. Many are from Latin America or India, with a handful from the six countries on the recent, temporary travel ban list.
Alvarez is trying to help one client reunite with his daughter.
“He is a U.S. citizen and veteran from the United States,” Alvarez said. “His daughter is from Iran and we are trying to bring her to the United States.”
Since Trump’s recent temporary travel ban was shot down by federal courts, Alvarez has hope for her client. But she is worried about the White House’s next proposal and how a crackdown on illegal immigration is impacting those that are here legally.
“We are hearing reports of custom and border patrol officials pressuring lawful and permanent resident to denounce their citizenship,” Alvarez explained. “I have clients, even permanent residence who are protected legally from deportation…who come to me and are afraid under these policies that they might be deported and separated from their families.”
She says her clients that are lawful and permanent residents are concerned about the executive order “creating a heightened enforcement priority, including people suspected of a crime and not convicted. Even if they are in front of a judge and found innocent, they are still considered a heightened priority of immigration purposes. They are still concerned about being separated from loved ones.”
Alvarez supported the court’s recent decision to overturn Trump’s temporary travel ban from six countries, saying it didn’t grant immigrants who recently went through the vetting process their rights.
“One of the issues with the (previous) travel ban was that it banned people who went through the legal process. The U.S. government has already had them fill out forms and applications and go through interviews and gotten fingerprints and determined that individual merits a Visa. And the (recent) executive order denied entry base on that Visa,” explained Alvarez.
“So there are due process concerns,” she continued. “If we expect immigrants to follow the law and procedure then we also expect those standards and procedures to be applied to everyone.”
But Alvarez says the proposed travel ban had more than just a practical influence on her clients.
“It painted people from entire countries with a broad brush that they might be a security threat,” she said.
For more information on the Immigration Project, click here.