Millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the US face possible deportation as a result of President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement orders. The Pew Research Center estimates that there are as many as 70,000 undocumented immigrants currently living in Arkansas. With much fear of the Trump administration’s policies, a coalition of human rights activists in the state has stepped forward to try to help.
Trump has signed a series of executive orders, since taking office, to purge the US of undocumented immigrants, and is also attempting to redeploy the 2008 Secure Communities program. This allows local law enforcement to determine the immigration status of people held in custody via federal databases.
Over 400,000 individuals were removed from the US as a result of the Secure Communities, around a third of whom were convicted criminals. In 2014, President Barack Obama ended the program, following reports of immigrant families ripped apart by the policies, and of racial profiling. In Obama’s last year as President, though, as many as 240,255 undocumented immigrants were removed from the country, although 92 percent of them had criminal convictions.
Stephen Coger, an immigration attorney in Springdale, fears that the ramping up of immigration enforcement under Trump is resulting in the established immigrant community in Arkansas once again hiding in the shadows. But the Arkansas State Police does not currently take part in the program, nor have any immigration sweeps taken place in the state, unlike Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas Missouri.