New Jersey’s undocumented immigrants fear deportation under Trump presidency
President-elect Donald Trump says that he plans to immediately deport 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds once he takes office.
Many of New Jersey's undocumented immigrants says that they fear Trump will also come after people without criminal backgrounds and send them back as well.
Li Adorno is a 23-year-old health student at Saint Peter's University in Jersey City. He also happens to be undocumented.
Adorno grew up in New Jersey and is a recipient of President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA work permit is renewed every two years, but provides no path to citizenship.
"Right now it's mostly just me and my sister...my younger brother is documented. But my parents are fully undocumented so it's a very split situation," he says.
Adorno says that he is scared his family may be targeted for deportation under a Trump presidency.
"I think [Trump] is going to go after everyone. No matter if you have DACA or not," Adorno says.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has said that he will not change how Newark treats its undocumented population once Trump takes office. The mayor says that the city already has a policy of protecting undocumented immigrants from deportation and sees no reason to change that now.
Immigration advocates say that they hope to make some college campuses "sanctuary campuses" to help undocumented students. They say that they are worried that Trump won't keep the DACA program because it was established by executive order of President Obama.
"People who have DACA, their status is safe for the time being and nothing will happen until some new executive order or some other law passes in Congress," says immigration attorney Polli Hardeo.
Hardeo is an attorney for Catholic Charities and has handled hundreds of immigration cases. She says that Trump's plan to deport 3 million immigrants with criminal backgrounds goes beyond the 300,000 convicted felons who are already sitting in detention centers.
"People who might be permanent residents with green cards but haven't formally been convicted, he's eyeing those people for removal," Hardeo says. She advises those who are undocumented to meet with an immigration attorney sooner than later.
Numbers from the Pew Research Center show about two-thirds of undocumented immigrants have been in the country for more than a decade. New Jersey is among six states where most of them live.