President Donald Trump has promised a new immigration and travel ban executive order that the White House said should withstand the challenges the first ban could not.
That the president has persisted in his stand on immigration has continued to cause anxiety for many undocumented — but productive — aliens.
The owners of Ben’s Chili Bowl joined thousands of businesses nationwide on Feb. 16 to support the “Day Without Immigrants” demonstration in protest of the Trump administration’s stance on immigration.
While some businesses closed, the owners of the landmark northwest D.C. eatery opened its doors for visitors to enjoy its classic dishes such as the “chili half-smoke.”
“We are all immigrants,” said the Alis’ daughter-in-law, Vida Ali. “A day without immigrants is a day without Ben’s Chili Bowl.”
Trump’s proposed ban has left those such as Regina DeMeo, a guest-teacher at George Washington University and Georgetown Law School, in a bind, seeking answers for those who’ve had difficulty securing citizenship.
“Both my parents are immigrants,” DeMeo said. “My mother is from Ecuador and my dad is from Spain. They both came here over 50 years ago, and I was born here 44 years ago.
“My parents were never together, and my mother worked hard for many years as a bookkeeper, sometimes working two jobs to make ends meet, while my grandmother stayed home and took care of me,” she said. “My father has lived his entire adult life in Miami, and he runs his own important company. He brings over food from Spain and distributes it to the local restaurants in Miami, often working very long hours and weekends.”
Because both of her parents have thick accents, they have sometimes been disregarded, shunned, or been made to feel like they are not Americans, DeMeo said.
“I never had this problem because I do not have an accent, and I had the benefit of scholarships to help me obtain the best education possible,” said DeMeo, who has been assisting D.C.-area families for 18 years with custody and divorce matters. “I am outraged at the travel ban and Trump’s actions. Even though I am a U.S. citizen, as are both my parents, it is heartbreaking to see what is going on.
“I believe in this country, and our legal system, and therefore I do have faith that this will all be made right,” she said. “I am also really inspired by how many people are rallying and raising their voices to promote awareness to causes that are very dear to my heart, including tolerance and respect for immigrants.”
After a federal court sided against Trump’s immigration travel ban earlier this month, a new proposal that made the rounds contends that the administration considered mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.
Staffers in the Department of Homeland Security said the proposal had been discussed as recently as Feb. 17.
The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans.
Four states that border on Mexico were included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Already, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence said they were very concerned about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s arrest of a victim of domestic violence in El Paso, Texas last week.
In what should have been a place of refuge from abuse, the victim was the subject of yet another assault, this time on her freedom, the organization said in a news release. As the woman sought a protection order, she was detained in the courthouse by ICE agents in preparation for deportation.
Her abuser assaulted her yet again, this time by alerting the ICE, the organization noted.
“Threat of deportation is a common abuse tactic; we have seen in this case why it is so effective,” said Ruth Glenn, NCADV executive director. “This tactic is also detrimental to the communities in which they reside. When victims and survivors are unable to reach out to law enforcement to report abuse, violent perpetrators can go free.”
The coalition has long been concerned that victims and survivors will not seek services and legal protections, such as protection orders, for fear of arrest and deportation, she said.
“If a victim, no matter her standing in this nation, cannot feel safe in a courtroom, we must begin to look even harder at our systems and responses to victims of domestic violence,” Glenn said. “It is imperative that ICE and other federal agencies understand the dynamics of domestic violence and the tactics of abusers who use these very strategies to continue the violence.”
Among the biggest obstacles facing immigrants is their lack of access to education and they are unaware of what their rights are, DeMeo said.
“They fear speaking out or asking for help, and employers exploit that,” she said. “And obviously, they often lack sufficient funds to hire an attorney or pay the necessary fees to apply for citizenship.”
DeMeo said that if not for the generosity of others, a stellar education and hard work, she wouldn’t be a lawyer or teacher.
“My parents had zero connections to help me in my endeavors,” DeMeo said. “So I had to work extra hard to network, use social media to market my ideas, and it’s thanks to the media that the last five years have been the sweetest and most rewarding of my life.”