Immigrant communities in the U.S. brace for deportations in wake of new crackdown

The following is an excerpt from The Globe and Mail originally published February 22, 2017.

Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale of the Reformed Church of Highland Park in New Jersey said that there is “tremendous anxiety” among the members of his congregation, which includes undocumented immigrants from Indonesia who have lived in the United States for more than 15 years.

“What’s most troubling now is what this is doing to the mental health of our community,” Mr. Kaper-Dale said. Children are frightened about the possibility of their parents being taken away, which is sometimes causing behavioural issues at school, he said.

The church is preparing to act as a physical sanctuary, if necessary, for undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation, something it already did once back in 2012. In recent years, his community had a kind of respite from immigration enforcement actions, Mr. Kaper-Dale said, but he believes that time is now at an end.

On Tuesday, for example, members of his church accompanied an undocumented immigrant to a regular check-in at a local ICE office. Their role was to reassure and to watch for anything unexpected, like what occurred earlier this month in Phoenix.

“We just need this President to know he’s being cruel,” said Mr. Kaper-Dale, who is running for governor of New Jersey on the Green Party ticket. “He’s surely not concerned about security. There’s nothing secure about creating a state of fear and chaos.”

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