Fear grips communities as immigrants prepare for new administration Information is empowering, rights advocates say

OneJustice legal fellow Maureen Slack and Orland Unified Student Support Services Secretary Neli Peña discuss the upcoming immigration fair.
OneJustice legal fellow Maureen Slack and Orland Unified’s Neli Peña at a planning meeting for the March immigration fair.

by Leslie Layton

Scared.

That’s how attorneys and immigrant rights advocates were describing their clients in the weeks preceding the inauguration of a president whose campaign was laced with hostile anti-immigrant rhetoric.

As a candidate, Donald Trump talked about massive deportations and vowed to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that has brought relief to hundreds of thousands of young adults who were raised in this country without legal status.

The best antidote for fear, say rights advocates, is preparation. In California cities, immigrants can usually find a qualified organization that offers free or low-cost services – including legal consultations and know-your-rights forums. But in rural California, those kinds of resources are often rare or nonexistent.

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Trump presidency alarms immigrant community Advocates say take steps to prepare

photo by Karen Laslo

photo by Karen Laslo

by Leslie Layton

Immigrant rights advocates are bracing for an uphill fight in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory and encouraging people who could be harmed by an immigration crackdown to take steps now to protect themselves.

“We definitely have a fight ahead of us,” said Kamal Essaheb, director of policy and advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), “a fight against the criminalization of immigrants and people of color, a fight for true economic justice for a country where everybody, regardless of the color of their skin or immigration status, can seek opportunities to make their lives better. And immigrants, documented or not, will be a critical part of that fight.”

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