Immigrant communities and attorneys are doing their best to parse through some recent statements by Governor Chris Christie after Princeton University made a show of defying President Trump's move gather up and deport large numbers of immigrants. Christie's remarks indicate that he supports the President's efforts to deport "dangerous" immigrants, but he also seemed unbothered that the sweeping new efforts are affecting immigrants with no violent history at all.
Christie acknowledged that some immigrants who should reasonably be exempt from deportation are being torn away from established lives, some of them after many years as upstanding members of their communities. "Things always don't go perfectly," Christie noted when attempting to explain why some immigrants are being unfairly deported. He instead urged the public to focus on the goal of the new deportation measures. Ostensibly, this goal is to "keep a campaign promise on making sure that violent criminals who are here illegally are taken out of the country in order to make America's streets safer."
While it is no surprise that a politician might spin a troubling issue in a positive light, the reality for many immigrants is that they are living in very reasonable fear that they may be unfairly deported. Only a few days into a new era of stricter immigration and deportation policies, there are already cases of individuals facing deportation despite being law-abiding residents. Although New Jersey is fortunate to have a number of entities that publicly oppose the measures and offer some protections against the new harsher enforcements, it is unclear how well these legal shields will hold up in the long run.
If you are an immigrant, now is not the time to bury your head in the sand and hope for the best. While the future is not certain, you can take some proactive steps to protect yourself and your family. Do not hesitate to contact an attorney with experienced in immigration to help you prepare yourself and protect your rights.
Source: NorthJersey.com, "Christie offers no assurances to undocumented immigrants," Dustin Racioppi, Feb. 12, 2017