Undocumented immigrants are now worrying about turning up to apply for green cards due to fears they will be arrested, according to a report from WBUR on Thursday.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested five people in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on Wednesday–three of whom were starting the process of applying for green cards.
Brian Doyle, an attorney for a Brazilian national who was arrested, said his client knew she could be risking deportation by applying for a green card with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services but made the decision to go to the meeting.
The woman had just finished a 40-minute questioning when an ICE agent entered the office to inform her she was being arrested, Doyle said. Now, the mother of three is in custody at the Suffolk County House of Corrections and could be deported to Brazil, a country she hasn’t visited in 15 years.
Doyle said his client, a small business owner who is married to a U.S. citizen and has no criminal record, now finds herself in a “catch-22" made possible under President Trump’s immigration crackdown.
“Now, they’re in a sort of catch-22 where, ‘All right, I’m being called in for this interview. I want to have this first step approved.’ If they don’t show up, it’s what’s called abandoned…USCIS just sort of assumes that they don’t want to go forward with it,” the attorney told WBUR, an NPR station out of Boston. “But now, if they do show up, trying to take that first step and they’re detained, it can lead to them being removed.”
Under President Obama, ICE agents were instructed not to carry out immigration raids under such circumstances. But with Trump in charge, immigration police have been empowered to ramp up arrests in courthouses, workplaces, and homes across the country.
In a statement to the station, ICE said its officers were “responding to an investigative tip” when they turned up at the USCIS office in Lawrence.
When asked if the five people detained have any criminal record, an agency spokesman replied that two residents have none and the other three have “multiple traffic violations” to their names.
That’s really all you need to know, despite whatever meager way ICE is trying to spin it.