Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 4:22 am | Fair 33º


Local News

Head of National Network Discusses Immigration, Refugee Rights

Catherine Tactaquin's talk sponsored by Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law

Catherine Tactaquin, executive director of the National Network for Immigrants and Refugee Rights, shared her views at a forum this week sponsored by the Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law. Click to view larger
Catherine Tactaquin, executive director of the National Network for Immigrants and Refugee Rights, shared her views at a forum this week sponsored by the Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

When President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January, President Barack Obama’s immigration plans could be repealed, leaving its recipient’s futures uncertain.

That's the view expressed by Catherine Tactaquin, executive director of the National Network for Immigrants and Refugee Rights, at a forum this week in Santa Barbara.

Obama established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy in 2012 to allow undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to pay a fee to receive protection from deportation and a temporary work permit.

“DACA has the most impact and is a concern,” Tactaquin said. “Everyone is on pins and needles about what is going to happen. Trump promised to revoke the program.”

Tactaquin also mentioned how Obama has deported more than two million people during his time in office since coming to office in 2009.

More than 50 people gathered Wednesday night to listen to Tactaquin, who was the featured speaker at “New President, New Policies: What is the Future of Immigration in the U.S.?” hosted by the Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law.

Individuals who qualified for DACA had to prove they came to the United States before reaching age 16, lived here for at least five years continuously, attend or graduated from high school or college, were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and have no criminal convictions.

Migration Policy Institute estimates 9,000 people in Santa Barbara County are DACA-eligible.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services accepted more than 200,000 applications as of June 2016, with a 63 percent “immediately eligible application rate,” according to MPI.

"The threat is in two months," Tactaquin said. “Most of our calls have been focused on this impact and the young immigrants who are registered with the government. Their identity, addresses and work information is all known.”

Roughly 750,000 people were issued temporary protected status, Tactaquin said.

“These people are on the frontline, and we will not know (the outcome) until it is closer to the inauguration,” Tactaquin said. “Any scenario is scary. He could end the program, keep the people in and have them remain their status — or he could end the program, revoke the people’s status and they could be immediately deported.”

The 100-day action plan Trump's campaign released in October includes a step towards deporting “more than two million criminal illegal immigrants,” suspending immigration from regions of the world identified as terror-prone, as well as fully funding a border wall with the expectation Mexico will reimburse the money.

“These were campaign promises that he continuously made,” she said. “We will see what can be implemented and what may need to go through Congress.”

Tactaquin said the intent to protect people from deportation is being pushed towards university leaders and local police agencies.

Major cities, such as Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and San Francisco have announced as sanctuary cities, and mayors and authorities vow they would not comply with orders from Trump to deport and identify undocumented immigrants, despite threats of reduced federal funding.

“That’s the kind of statement that’s needed,” Tactaquin. “We also need universities and employers to take this stance and stand up. We need to strengthen allegiances. Cities can stand up and we need to protect the most vulnerable."

There's no set meaning for sanctuary cities, but generally speaking, these are cities that refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement of immigration laws and policies.

“It means local police are not there to enforce federal immigration law and will not enforce it,” Tactaquin said. “It does not mean they are completely safe.”​

Local police agencies are refusing to enforce Trump's proposed immigration enforcement policies.

Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow released a statement Tuesday announcing she has no plans of changing SBPD’s policies related to immigration enforcement and that the SBPD “is committed to protecting everyone’s rights, regardless of immigration status.”

The Lompoc Police Department released a statement Wednesday saying the agency "has no plans to change its policy on immigration," according to Sgt. Kevin Martin.

“Immigration is not just an immigrant issue, it’s an issue for all of us and allegiances need to be built,” Tactaquin said. “We need to work on the narrative and asserting values-based practices.”

The program was scheduled weeks ago, well before the election, with the intention of discussing the issues through the lens of a Trump administration or a Clinton administration, depending on who won, said Matthew Nehmer, executive director of the Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law.

“The goal of the event is to create a space for understanding and awareness for immigration and refugee issues in this country as we transition to a new administration,” Nehmer said. “It is part of a larger effort at the Colleges of Law to open our doors to the public for more educational and public affairs programming.

"We’re a proud nonprofit institution of higher learning and want to share our academic mission with people. It is just one way to make this objective reality.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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