Lack of information on possible deportation fuels fear among Latinos, assemblywoman says

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November 17, 2016 – By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers

Nevada Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, said Thursday that many in the Latino community are fearful of the mass deportations of undocumented immigrants promised by President-elect Donald Trump.

“This could all play out very badly and we can’t pretend that is not a scenario,” she said on Nevada Newsmakers.

The four-term Assemblywoman said the fear is multiplied by the lack of information on how possible deportations would work.

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“So how would that look?” Benitez-Thompson said. “Are they using the National Guard? Are they using local police enforcement? Are they saying as people are picked up and apprehended, they are automatically deported and they don’t stay here? There are a lot of pieces we don’t know. I’ve heard one scenario in which if people have a criminal record, they are just held indefinitely in America, in our jail system — which we don’t even know if it is legal.”

Benitez-Thompson hopes states can play a role in treating possible deportees “the best we can.”

“I don’t want to say, wave it off, this will all go away,'” she said. “I think we are going to have to deal with this somehow. And I think it will come up to each individual state to make sure we are all treating people the best that we can within the prescribed rule of law that we will probably be handed.”

Veteran Nevadan Journalist Ray Hagar is known for fair and tough reporting and invigorating commentary.
Veteran Nevadan Journalist Ray Hagar is known for fair and tough reporting and invigorating commentary.

Trump said in August that the deportations would begin as soon as he is sworn in as President in January. He added that he would deport all of the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally with the help of a “deportation force.”

More recently, Trump suggested that he wants to deport about 3 million undocumented immigrants, according to NBC News.

One of Trump’s major supporters, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said during a CNN interview in September that Trump “would find it very, very difficult to throw out a family that has been here for 15 years and they have three children, two of whom are citizens. That is not the kind of America he wants.”

Trump could also unilaterally end President Obama’s policy of stopping deportations of young people referred to as Dreamers, according to NBC News. If Trump suspended the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, Dreamers (those brought to the U.S. illegally as young children) would lose specific protection from deportation, according to NBC News.

If Trump wants to deport Dreamers, the federal government already has the necessary information to pick them up, Benitez-Thompson said.

“They (Dreamers) have made themselves known with the government when they registered to stay here as Dreamers and now their names are out there and known,” Benitez-Thompson said. “And what is going to happen to them? Are their visas going to be revoked? Are they going to be rounded up? These are legitimate questions to be asked.”

Although Benitez-Thompson wants states to have some influence, she noted this would be a Federal program.

“The Federal government, obviously, would have to decide by what process they would go out and try to find undocumented people and round them up,” Benitez-Thompson said. “I imagine, although we don’t have any details other than the verbiage that is out there, but they would have to use some type of instrument in each state to do the physical act of going out and gathering people.”

Watch this episode of Nevada Newsmakers here.

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