An immigration lawyer in New London said there’s a culture of fear amongst people who are undocumented but trying to become lawful American residents or American citizens.
“I think there’s been a lot of word on the street about round-ups by ICE so people are starting to think, ‘maybe I need to prepare for myself,’” said attorney Marcy Levine.
Levine said under Donald Trump’s administration, she’s been getting flooded with calls from both undocumented and documented immigrants concerned about deportation. They’ve been making plans for guardianship for their children and finding a power of attorney for their belongings.
“People who are undocumented are not safe. Even if they’re not out committing crimes. A lot of us believe that people who had pending criminal cases or violent criminal histories would be the ones targeted for removal,” Levine said.
She referenced Nury Chavarria’s case. A Norwalk mom of four who’s lived in the United State for 24 years. Chavarria is now seeking refuge at a New Haven church, refusing deportation.
There’s uncertainty about the future of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Levine added. And to have a case heard before a judge could take years.
“I wanted a changed life. And over there, I (didn’t) have milk to give to my children. I needed to take a chance for them,” said Lizbeth Polo-Smith, who left her young children in Peru in 2002 and came to America.
Polo-Smith wanted to be able to afford meals, diapers and create a better life for her children. But she was in the U.S. for 14 years before being able to get her green card.
Polo-Smith was able to lawfully bring two of her children to American when they were eight and six years old since their father was an American citizen.
“We’re not criminals. We’re working in (American) houses, we’re working in their yards, we’re working in their restaurants. We’re working – We’re not criminals,” she said.
At Centro de la Comunidad at 109 Blinman Street in New London, Levine and Polo-Smith are hosting a forum and discussing legal options for non-citizens. It starts at 7 p.m. Monday, and there’s another discussion on July 29 at 10 a.m.
People who attend are asked to donate a pack of diapers for families in need.