'Utter Chaos': ACLU, University of Idaho Attorney Panel Analyzes Trump's Immigration Order 

  • U.S. Passport Service
According to University of Idaho College of Law Associate Professor Kate Evans, President Donald Trump's recent executive orders on immigration have caused "utter chaos."

"Immigration has taken on a new providence since the election of Donald Trump," said Evans, who is also the director of the Immigration Clinic at the U of I.

Evans spoke as part of a panel discussion hosted by the university in Moscow, which was attended by ACLU-Idaho Legal Director Ritchie Eppink, Andrade Legal founder Maria Andrade, student adviser Carolina Silva and UndocuQueer representative and Washington State University student Maria Yepez. The discussion was broadcast live to the U of I law school extension campus in Boise.

The panel convened days before the Associated Press reported on a draft memo proposing to mobilize up to 100,000 National Guard troops to round up undocumented immigrants. Named in the memo are 11 states, including four that border Mexico—Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas—and an additional seven states adjacent to border states: Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.

Drafted Jan. 25—the same day Trump signed a controversial executive order banning immigration and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries—the memo outlined a plan to revive a federal-state partnership that would allow National Guard troops to perform the functions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. The AP report was described as "irresponsible" by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who insisted no such plan was under consideration.

The panelists described a menu of immigration enforcement techniques used by local and federal agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), some of which have been used in the past, and others that are ascendant with Trump's immigration priorities. All of them, however, were described as ranging from "disruptive" to families and work environments to "unconstitutional."

"It's a very inhumane way to carry out enforcement, and the people who suffer the most are children," Andrade said.

These tactics include workplace raids, in which ICE agents shut down a place of business where undocumented immigrants are believed to work; and I-9 audits, where agents ask an employer for the work eligibility of its employees. Such tactics dramatically "disrupt" businesses, panelists said, and can cause employees to flee—regardless of whether they have a right to work in the United States.

In Idaho, such roundups of immigrants can have profound impacts on the state's agriculture industry, and industry leaders have been outspoken about the significance of immigrants to the labor force and their support for immigration reform that would protect immigrant labor.

During the administration of President Barack Obama, however, ICE was handed another tool for singling out undocumented immigrants: a network of institutions like schools, hospitals and jails that, according to Eppink, sort immigrants from non-immigrants by requiring identifying information from people who use them.

"It isn't our contribution to society" that determines whether people belong in the United States, Eppink said. "It will be out race or our origin that will tell us where we need to be."

Jails have proved to be one of the biggest sorters of people. During booking, inmates' identifying information is cross-checked with national databases, turning up their immigration status. For those in the U.S. on an undocumented basis, ICE issues detainer holds—otherwise known as detainer requests—that ask county jails to keep inmates until they can be transferred to ICE custody.

During a 13-month period, the Ada County Sheriff's office honored 89 detainer requests per department policy, and a bill fronted by Rep. Greg Chaney (R-Caldwell) that has been moving through the Idaho Legislature would deny sales tax funds to cities and counties that do not follow in ACSO's footsteps.

During the Obama presidency, immigrants held on detainer requests were often subject to "priorities memos," which ultimately freed undocumented offenders charged with light and mild offenses like traffic infractions, and deported offenders charged with more serious crimes like rape and murder. Under the new administration, such priorities memos have not been renewed, potentially subjecting all undocumented offenders to deportation, regardless of the severity of their crime.

All of these factors have had a dramatic effect on Maria Yepez's life. A "Dreamer"—an immigrant allowed to stay in the United States because of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs—she told the panel she has begun to see posters on the Washington State campus urging students to turn over the names of undocumented immigrants to ICE, and the current political environment makes her uneasy.

"I don't feel safe, to be honest," she said.

"If [DACA] were to be removed, I wouldn't be able to work. I am the oldest of six, and I have a responsibility to help my parents back at home," she added.
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