Undocumented People Should Avoid Traveling Abroad, Experts Say

With the threat of anti-immigrant Donald Trump's presidency looming, advocates for undocumented people are urging them to stay in the country, lest they not be allowed back in, after Inauguration Day.
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Lydia O'Neal
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Undocumented immigrants temporarily allowed to reside in the U.S. may want to wrap up their international travels by Inauguration Day, experts told the Associated Press, as incoming President Donald Trump could keep them from coming home. Still, they may find relief next year in the form of a bipartisan congressional bill.

“We are recommending all travel by completed by or before Jan. 20 in the event laws or procedures experience a drastic change,” Angelica Salas, the executive director of the Los Angeles-based Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, told the newswire. “We wouldn’t want to expose them to an uncertain situation should they not be allowed back in the U.S.”

Trump plans to eliminate President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, also known as DAPA. While DACA currently protects young people brought to the U.S. before their 16th birthdays, its expansion and DAPA were suspended when the Supreme Court reached a 4-4 tie on a case challenging the actions, leaving nearly 4 million people at risk of deportation months before Trump enters office. Under the existing DACA action, 1.2 people have been permitted to stay and work in the U.S. legally, a protection Trump’s campaign site says he plans to discard “immediately.”

In a Dec. 7 TIME interview, Trump appeared to soften his stance, telling the magazine, “I want Dreamers for our children also. We’re going to work something out.” In an attempt to take advantage of his more humanitarian position, Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) crafted a bill, which they dubbed the BRIDGE Act, Friday to temporarily protect the young people covered by DACA. The senators planned to reintroduce it at the start of 2017, according to NBC News.

During his campaign, Trump had also proposed construction of a “big, beautiful wall” along the border with Mexico to bar immigrants from entering the country and to detain undocumented people “until they are removed from our country,” according to his campaign site.

Another item on Trump’s list is the ending of so-called “sanctuary cities,” which openly challenge federal and state immigration laws by refusing to turn people in the U.S. illegally over to authorities. In an effort to provide immigrants some relief for the coming years, officials in at least 37 urban centers declared their hometowns sanctuary cities as of Dec. 12, according to Politico.

Aside from immigrants who fall under DACA and DACA, 6 million undocumented people remain vulnerable to deportation.

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