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Twin Cities Immigration Attorneys Field Questions As Nationwide Deportation Raid Deadline Looms

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- President Donald Trump has given lawmakers a two-week deadline to come up with an immigration plan, or he says he'll carry out his nationwide deportation raid.

Immigration authorities were expected to target more than 2,000 undocumented families across the country this weekend. The policy planned to target undocumented migrants who either missed a court hearing or had already received a deportation order.

The President said Democrats must come up with changes to asylum laws or ICE will conduct mass roundups.

It's unlikely Congress can find a solution on asylum in two weeks, but there is a bipartisan agreement on a $4.5 billion humanitarian aid package for the border that's expected to get a vote this week.

The back-and-forth this weekend sent thousands of Minnesota families scrambling. While Minneapolis and St. Paul were not named in the list of 10 metro areas ICE was set to target, the uncertainty is still being felt in much smaller cities across the state.

The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota has been fielding questions ever since this weekend's news-- perhaps even more at its satellite offices in Austin, Moorehead and Worthington.

"When people are afraid to come to work or students are staying home from school-- or people are afraid to go shopping or go about their daily needs-- you feel that impact in a greater way in a smaller place," staff attorney Kathy Klos said.

It was 13 years ago when immigration raids targeted more than 200 meatpacking plant workers in Worthington. So, Klos says this type of panic isn't exactly new.

"Worthington has one of the most diverse populations of the small rural cities in out-state Minnesota," she said.

The Pew Research Center points out that Minnesota has about 95,000 undocumented immigrants, about 25% of all immigrants in the state.

In Minneapolis, the Bortel Firm reminded clients of their rights on Facebook if a raid were to happen.

"The stress level for us and our clients is off the charts," Angela Bortel said.

Bortel says her firm was already busy when President Obama was in office.

"He deported more people than any President ever has in his two terms," Bortel said.

She says what's different with President Trump's policies is the uncertainty and enforcement questions they've created.

"The trickle down, the chaos, and the fear. We're getting calls about things we never got calls about," Bortel said.

In response to all of the questions, the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota has established a free helpline.

To see the dates and times representatives will be available, click here. (Spanish version here.)

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