Bay Area clergy, undocumented students react to new hardline immigration rules
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The Trump administration issued two memos Tuesday outlining a new hardline stance on immigration enforcement. The new rules call for an increase in the number of immigration agents and an increase in their power to remove people from the country.
The rules also called on local law enforcement agencies to play a bigger role in immigration enforcement.
In San Francisco, which has been declared a sanctuary city, clergy members and community groups met at the University of San Francisco to discuss reaction to the announcement.
One undocumented student named Miriam says the new Department of Homeland Security memos multiply the anxiety she and others are feeling.
"You have to be so careful, about literally everything in your life. The smallest mistake can cost me my livelihood," said Miriam, whose two younger siblings were born in the U.S. and are citizens.
"I was seven, eight when I first came to the U.S. I still remember Mexico, but I have been here I'm now 22. So most of my life has been in the U.S.," she added.
The rules extend the power of immigration agents to remove anyone, nationwide not just near the borders, who cannot prove they have been in the country for more than two years.
The White House also outlined plans to begin building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
It also calls for the hiring of five-thousand more border patrol officers and ten-thousand more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
"The message from this White House and from the DHS is that those people who are in this country and pose a threat to our public safety or have committed a crime will be the first to go, and we will be aggressively making sure that that occurs," said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.
Spicer says mass deportation is not the goal.
"The President is powering DHS to carry out immigration laws on the books," Spicer said.
"The laws they're using go back to 1996, 1986, and back to the 1950's. But what is new is that the extent to which there is so much a focus on enforcement," said John Trasvinia, Dean of the University Of San Francisco Law School.
"Prior to this time, the administration's focus was on new arrivals or poeple who had committed crimes and were convicted of crimes in court. Now it is everyone who is here without authorization," said Trasvinia, who adds that legal challenges are likely.
Tuesday's memos do not affect an estimated 750,000 immigrants who entered the U.S. Illegally as children. For now, those people will retain their work permits under the Obama Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
Bay Area clergy gathered at USF to discuss a nationwide movement of sanctuary congregations to protect some undocumented immigrants.
"The sanctuary movement of congregations is a national movement of over 800 congregations so far who have come together to work together for immigrant justice and against the administration's harmful immigration policies," said Reverend Deborah Lee, Director of Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
Rev. Lee says the sanctuary congregations plan to hold a procession on March first in San Francisco's Mission District.