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Austin network prepares for immigration crackdown, faces potential legal obstacles, P.1

There is no doubt that the present moment is a precarious one for undocumented immigrants awaiting Donald Trump's inauguration as President of the United States. Many are fearful about how Trump will address the issue of illegal immigration.

Of particular concern are statements Trump has made about removing undocumented immigrants from the country and requiring them to follow the legal procedure for becoming a citizen. For many, this has sparked fears that families will be broken up, that lives will be disrupted, and that many immigrants will simply be unable to come back to the United States. 

Some immigration advocates have already begun to prepare for an Immigration and Customs Enforcement crackdown. This week, an Austin group of immigration advocates, faith communities and the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, announced that it will be spearheading efforts to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The group is training volunteers for what it terms, "non-violent direct action." Volunteers will act as a "physical barrier" between undocumented immigrants and ICE, and plan to monitor a hotline to keep the network informed about raids. The group says its efforts will slow down an immigration crackdown because ICE is unable to arrest American citizens without the involvement of local law enforcement.

The group is likely to face legal obstacles in carrying out its plans. In addition to the arrest of volunteers by local law enforcement officers, there is also the possibility that cities and counties would be forced to honor ICE detainers under a Senate bill currently under consideration, which could result in more deportations. In addition, state law could also allow for felony charges against the volunteers who obstruct the work of ICE agents. We'll say more about this in our next post. 

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