Immigrants flock to citizenship programs in wake of presidential race

Immigrants flock to citizenship programs in wake of presidential race

NEW BEDFORD — The Immigrants Assistance Center has seen a stepped-up number of requests for citizenship application papers in the past 18 months during the presidential campaign, Director Helena DaSilva Hughes told The Standard-Times.

Now the outcome of the election has some undocumented residents in a state of fear that when Donald Trump is sworn in as president, he will make good on his promises to have them deported, she said.

This article appeared in the Standard Times on Nov. 10th – HERE

Passing the citizenship test affords the best protection of the government coming to deport a person.

Hughes said that some older and better educated naturalized citizens went for Hillary Clinton, others for Trump. It’s a pattern that has been noted nationwide.

But she added that some immigrants will not admit to voting for Trump, even though they may resent the fact that they put in years gaining citizenship and feel undocumented residents cut into the line unfairly.

Benedicto Ixchop, a Guatemalan native who is a permanent legal resident, says customers aren’t spending the way they once did at his Acushnet Avenue Bakery, Sara’s, which he has run for 11 of the 21 years he has been in the United States.
“It’s real fear,” said Corinn Williams, director of the Community Economic Development Center, which caters to many immigrants, helping with legal issues or whatever else they may need. “They’re feeling the impact of apprehension and insecurity,” she said.

She said her office tries “to allay fears about not knowing what’s coming up next.”

Ixchop said he worries that small businesses like his will be endangered without customers spending the way they once did not long ago. He said his cousins and all his customers are talking about the election and their worries about Trump.

Hughes said that the 1996 Immigration Reform Act put many legal residents (green card holders) in jeopardy because it authorizes deportation of those who are not citizens. These individuals are here legally, are in the process of becoming naturalized, but like Ixchop they are not yet citizens, she noted.

Hughes said that some of the elderly immigrants lived under a dictatorship in Portugal until 1974, and they didn’t receive an education. But the law allows them to take the citizenship test in their own language if they have been in this country a certain number of years.

An Obama presidential order assists students age 15 to 30 in what’s called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, enabling them to get a temporary Social Security number and a green card so they can work. “We’re finding there’s a fear that Donald Trump may take away that executive order,” said Hughes.

This article appeared in the Standard Times on Nov. 10th – HERE

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