Immigrants Greet New Trump Rules With Protest And Worry

Jan 26, 2017
Originally published on January 26, 2017 7:30 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The president's executive actions on immigration drew protesters to the streets last night. Here's NPR's Hansi Lo Wang.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Here in Queens, N.Y., news about President Donald Trump's executive orders has helped pack the offices of the immigrant advocacy group Make The Road New York. Organizer Natalia Aristizabal is leading a workshop for about 50 people on immigrant rights.

NATALIA ARISTIZABAL: (Speaking Spanish).

WANG: Among other policies, one of Trump's orders calls for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, about a third of which is already blocked by a fence. But Aristizabal says she's more concerned about the threat of withholding federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities, perhaps compelling local police to enforce immigration laws. She warns that could destroy trust between police and immigrant communities.

ARISTIZABAL: Someone who's undocumented may be in great danger. The last thing they're going to think about is calling the police because that's going to mean a detention and deportation for the person making the phone call or perhaps someone in the family.

WANG: Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies welcomes stronger immigration enforcement. His group advocates for more restrictive immigration policies, but he does question how effective targeting sanctuary cities can be.

MARK KRIKORIAN: The question is who's going to blink first, the cities or the federal government, because cutting off their money is just step one. New York and LA and the rest of them are not going to change their policy because of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL DE BLASIO: We will not deport law-abiding New Yorkers. We will not tear families apart.

WANG: That's New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has denounced Trump's executive orders, and so have protesters in Queens.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Trump, (chanting in Spanish).

WANG: "Trump, listen, we are in the fight," demonstrators chant in Spanish, including 42-year-old Leticia Salazar who walked across the border illegally more than two decades ago.

LETICIA SALAZAR: I'm scared because I have children here, so I don't want to go back to Mexico because it's not easy to work over there.

WANG: Salazar cleans houses and sells water filters door-to-door to help raise her two sons and daughter who are U.S. citizens.

ANTONIO ALARCON: Those people who pick your fruit, who pick the vegetables that you eat every day, he's not talking about those people.

WANG: Antonio Alarcon says it's unfair that Trump's speeches often focus on immigrants who commit crimes. Alarcon was 10 when he and his parents walked across the U.S.-Mexico border without a visa. He registered for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program a few years ago, and now lives with his aunt and uncle.

ALARCON: Immigration will have my information, and at the end of the day if they decide to come to our houses, those are my big concerns, my aunt and my uncle, putting them at risk of deportation as well.

WANG: That's a concern looming high in Alarcon's mind, even though Trump has indicated he won't go after DACA recipients for now. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF BADBADNOTGOOD SONG, "CONFESSIONS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.