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Immigration

What will happen to Dreamers' personal information under Trump?

Donald Trump has vowed to end the executive action program benefitting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, so immigration attorneys and activists are concerned the information the federal government has about Dreamers could be used to deport them.
10 Nov 2016 – 2:08 PM EST

The day after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, immigration attorney Jorge Barón was fielding calls from his shaken undocumented clients.

"We're calling for calm because nothing will happen until the new president takes office and there's time to prepare for what will come,” said Barón, director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIPR), which offers legal help to immigrants.

Barón's Seattle office has received dozens of calls from immigrants worried that immigration agents could come after them. He's also received many calls from Dreamers, undocumented youths who came to the country as children and received deferred action, known as DACA, a program President Barack Obama launched in 2012. While DACA recipients are protected from deportation, they feel they're in limbo now that Trump has been elected.

One of Trump's most infamous campaign promises was to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. He also vowed to revoke Obama's executive action programs, including DACA, which benefits some 800,000 people with renewable work permits and temporary protection from deportation.

While hundreds of thousands of undocumented youths have been able to come out of the shadows, their future is uncertain under Trump. And immigration lawyers and activists are concerned about what will happen to DACA recipients' personal data. To apply for DACA, immigrants send the government a lot of information, including their home address and current or former school.

That's why NWIPR has decided to stop sending out new DACA applications. "For those who haven't applied for DACA yet, and there are those in that situation, we've asked that they wait to see what decisions are made because the risk is that once they apply, the government will have their information," Barón said.

The organization recommends that those who must renew their work permit do so, except if they’ve had problems with the law. There’s still a possibility that some work authorizations will be renewed before the end of the Obama administration.

Dreamer organization United We Dream has also continued to renew work permits so that young people don't lose their jobs.

According to director Cristina Jiménez, the group is also worried about data related to already-submitted DACA applicants and has spoken to government officials about this concern. At the moment, that information is in the hands of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"We are advocating that the Obama administration take care of this information so that it can not be used for deportation," said Jiménez. "We want this information to be protected in a strict and confidential way."

United We Dream has not yet made any decisions regarding new DACA applicants.

For immigrant-rights organizations, Trump’s election provides incentive to remind undocumented immigrants to fight for their rights.

"Our own parents remind us of the courage and resilience that led them to this country and that is the strength we have at this time,” says Jiménez. “We know that Trump's attacks were real, but that's not going to stop us. Organizing the community, we have had many victories and we will continue organizing. We are here without papers, we're no longer afraid and we are here because this is our country and we are not going to leave.”

For now, United We Dream has called for several protests to spread the message that they will not be intimidated and will continue to inform the community of their rights in case they face deportation, through programs such as Migra Watch.

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