Monday 16 January 2017

'Rhetoric on the campaign trail has given everyone cause to be nervous'

Graham Clifford

Published 20/11/2016 | 02:30

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign event in Miami, Florida U.S. November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign event in Miami, Florida U.S. November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

It'll be some weeks yet until Donald J Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States of America but already 11 million undocumented people living there are worried.

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Not only did he run on an anti-immigrant platform during his campaign, but the Republican Party will also have control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as Trump having the Supreme Court in the palm of his hand. At various stages during his campaign, he talked about deporting ll illegals in the US. Since his shock election, he's refined this to "three million illegal criminal immigrants". He has described this grouping as "gang members and drug dealers".

That would mean that over one in four illegal migrants to the US could be detained and deported.

And he promised in a recent interview: "After the border is secured we will make a determination on them [the rest of the undocumented]."

So his comments are vague, his promises seem outlandish but he has the power to enact huge change and that's what's keeping many of the 50,000 undocumented Irish awake at night.

"The undocumented are reacting like most of the rest of the country - they are in a state of disbelief and disappointment at the election of Donald Trump. We are facing very uncertain times and people are nervous," explains Celine Kennelly, the director of the San Francisco Irish Immigrant Pastoral Centre. There are approximately 3,500 undocumented Irish in the San Francisco area alone and Celine says it is now just a case of waiting. "The rhetoric of the campaign trail has given everyone cause to be nervous. The undocumented were singled out in the President-elect's campaign and in his immediate promise for his administration. But we need to be mindful of the fact that the President-elect has already changed some of his rhetoric in relation to our immigrant community and we need to wait and see how it unfolds over the coming weeks."

A key concern across American cities is the Trump Administration would try to tamper with Sanctuary City status so that undocumented migrants pulled over by the police for a misdemeanour could have their details released to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE).

It is hoped, however, that the impracticality of many of Trump's views on migration control and how to deal with the undocumented will see them remain merely as rhetoric. Many on Capitol Hill believe such initiatives are likely to be somewhat delayed at least by more pressing priorities, such as how to deal with Obamacare, tax reforms and conflicts overseas.

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