New immigration guidelines creating fear

Posted at 12:08 AM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 07:10:26-05

Fear of raids spread across Mid-Michigan Tuesday as the Trump administration laid out plans of how it will enforce immigration laws.

None happened, but the new directives ramp up enforcement against certain undocumented immigrants calling for faster deportation.

In Lansing it's putting hundreds of undocumented immigrants at fear they could be sent home.

"It just deepens that fear, deepens that anxiety," said Fr. Fred Thelen.

As the Pastor at Cristo Rey Church, Fr. Thelen's parish includes many illegal immigrants and he says the new directives are spreading unrest.

"There were rumors going around about raids happening today, that turned out to be false, but it just shows how quickly that panic and sense of fear it just gets amplified, and how real it is, how palpable it is in the community," Fr. Thelen explained.

The guidelines make it so nearly anyone here illegally is subject to deportation. It targets undocumented immigrants who are picked up by police for any reason, including traffic violations, and whose fingerprints are sent to Homeland Security. The Trump administration did clarified they're focusing on people charged with serious offensives.

"The message from this White House and from the DHS is that those people who are in this country and pose a threat to our public safety or have committed a crime will be the first to go, and we will be aggressively making sure that that occurs," said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

"This is consistent with everything the president has talked about, which is prioritizing the people who are here who represent a threat to public safety or have a criminal record. And all this does is lay out the exact procedures to make sure that that subgroup of people -- who pose a threat to our nation because of a conviction or a violation of public safety or have a criminal record -- are adjudicated first and foremost. That's it, plain and simple," Spicer said.

To help with that enforcement, the plan calls for hiring 15,000 federal agents and renews the push to deputize local police as immigration officers.

Lansing State Police tell us it's not their job to enforce federal laws, but if someone already had a warrant for another crime deputies would assist in that case.

The guidelines also make it so immigration agents in the middle of the country can remove anyone who can't prove they've been here for more than two years. That was previously restricted to agents near the border. Anyone picked up for that will be deported immediately, without a hearing.

Left unchanged, children brought here illegally would be safe from deportation, but Fr. Thelen says they're still at risk living in fear of their family being torn apart.

"Things like this tear apart the fabric of a community and weaken our country because it divide us," he said. "This kind of thing is just so against our faith, is so against our sense of humanity and it really is just quite outrageous."