Comments made by the president about plans to remove undocumented immigrants from the country have the attention of many in Connecticut.
Ahead of his campaign kickoff in Orlando Tuesday, President Donald Trump tweeted in part:
“Next week, I.C.E. will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in…”
The Pew Research Center estimates 120,000 unauthorized immigrants live in Connecticut as of 2016.
Alicia Kinsman is an attorney in Bridgeport who represents many of them.
“Right now, living in the United States, living in Connecticut as an undocumented person, as a foreign born individual, can be terrifying,” says Kinsman, who is the senior staff attorney and technical advisor at the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants.
“I’ve had so many clients who are afraid to identify themselves in any way, that includes calling the police.”
Kinsman says her clients’ concerns have grown with the current media and political climate.
“You know, vague information about deporting, removing millions of individuals without actual information about what’s happening, and who and where and when, adds to this all-pervasive climate of absolute terror,” said the attorney.
Lizzeth Vibaldo, a Bridgeport immigrant from Mexico, came to the United States two years ago to join her now-husband. Before then, she was scared.
“They just target you as an immigrant, and I was afraid of that, of having the hate and having these kind of situations where people are mean to you just because of who you are,” she noted.
Vibaldo says she found a welcoming new home in Bridgeport, and recently acquired her conditional green card, allowing her to work and live here legally for two years. Some of her family and friends remain undocumented.
They are sad and they are worried, and of course they are scared of having their families split, especially with the situations happening right now with immigration,” she mentioned.
In a statement NBC Connecticut received from ICE today, the agency said it’s “committed to identifying, arresting, and removing undocumented immigrants who are in violation of U.S. law, particularly those posing a public safety or national security threat,” adding that “these interior removals are helping to restore the integrity of our nation’s immigration system and enhance the safety and security of the United States.”