PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Trump administration’s hardline stance on immigration just got harder with the announcement that it would use the full force of the federal government to arrest and deport illegal aliens.
At Casa San Jose, an immigrant support organization in Brookline, counselors say members of the local Latino community have receded into the shadows.
“People are very, very afraid. I know many people have not gone to work, some people have not sent their kids to school,” said Monica Ruiz, of Casa San Jose.
The Department of Homeland Security announced its plans to hire 5,000 new border patrol agents and 10,000 immigration and customs enforcement agents, expanding the priority list of those who would be deported immediately.
At Casa San Jose, immigrants get counseling on the law and their rights, like one Columbian family, which has been seeking refugee status. But Ruiz says whether legal and illegal, immigrants are fearful — even she — an American born citizen.
“Just because of the color of my skin, or the way I look or if I decide to speak Spanish and somebody hears me, I could be targeted,” said Ruiz.
Still, the administration says it’s merely enforcing existing law.
“Everybody who is here illegally is subject to removal at any time, but the priority that the president has laid forward and the priority that ICE is putting forward through DHS’s guidance is to make sure that the people who have committed a crime or pose a threat to our public safety are the priority of their efforts,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
An expansion of deportation powers or merely enforcement of existing laws, either way, the Latino population here in Pittsburgh is fearful and many have gone underground.