Hawaii's undocumented immigrants on edge over new deportation ru - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii's undocumented immigrants on edge over new deportation rules

(Image: Twitter/@realDonaldTrump) (Image: Twitter/@realDonaldTrump)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

New federal guidelines that could significantly expand the number of undocumented immigrants who are detained or deported is raising concerns for Hawaii's immigrant community, say Hawaii lawmakers and immigration attorneys.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration unveiled new rules outlining how undocumented immigrants will be targeted, saying the changes are aimed at bolstering public safety.

White House officials argue the guidelines are aimed at going after wrongdoers, but Hawaii immigration attorney Clare Hanusz said the orders are broad enough to include the deportation of undocumented immigrants who've simply overstayed their visas.

"These people are our neighbors. They're people who run local businesses. Their kids go to our kids schools," Hanusz said. "They're living in extreme fear right now."

The Migration Policy Institute estimates that there are 21,000 illegal immigrants in Hawaii. Nearly two-thirds of them are listed as being from the Philippines or Japan.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, worries about the unintended consequences that the Department of Homeland Security directive will have on those undocumented immigrants. 

"What (President Trump) does may have a broader effect and may actually take those out that we don't want to see leave the country," she said.

The Trump administration insists the immigration policies are meant to strengthen America's immigration laws. 

"Remember, everybody who is here illegally is subject to removal at any time. That is consistent with every country, not just ours," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.

But Hanusz believes Homeland Security's deportation policies will include undocumented immigrants who are arrested for minor offenses.

"One of the questions is, if someone is stopped for driving with an expired license, or driving without a license, can that person be deported? And the answer very clearly given is yes," she said.

The president also wants to hire more immigration officers, including 5,000 border agents. And he aims to open an office dedicated to helping victims of immigration crime.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly