Donald Trump’s plans to deport illegal immigrants are prompting concern from Hispanic evangelicals with leaders urging caution.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the guidelines would prioritise deporting criminals or those who posed some form of threat. But he added ‘laws are laws’ and anyone in the US without permission faced removal at any time.
The controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme, known as DACA, was not mentioned in the new guidelines. The programme grants a let off from deportation and allows work permits for those brought as minors to the US illegally.
But addressing unaccompanied children fleeing violence or seeking to join families in the US the two memos published on Monday said ‘regardless of the desire of family reunification’, smuggling or trafficking is ‘intolerable’ and ‘exploitation of that policy led to abuses by many of the parents and legal guardians’.
Rev Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), who prayed at Trump’s inauguration, said he was pleased the DACA programme was left ‘intact’.
He said: ‘I urge this administration to continue pursuing comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes bi-partisan congressional support.
His organisation will ensure ‘there is no enforcement overreach, breach of due process or racial discrimination,, Rodriguez added.
‘I ask the administration to enact and fulfill the promise President Trump made not to harm families and exclusively deport those involved in nefarious activities. Please, help us keep families together.’
New Mexico’s Catholic bishops called the ideas ‘a declaration of some form of war’, according to Associated Press.
Meanwhile Pope Francis caused outrage by appearing to challenge Trump’s plans on twitter.