Whether President-elect Donald Trump will carry through with his campaign promises of mass deportations remains to be seen, immigration advocates say.
Trump made a crackdown on illegal immigration and the border with Mexico a centerpiece of his presidential campaign over the last 17 months. He vowed to revoke President Barack Obama’s executive order allowing “Dreamers” to remain legally in the US.
In Arizona, that would affect more than 20,000 registered undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who have been granted temporary protection from deportation, been allowed to work and, after a fight with state government, been allowed to apply for driver's licenses.
Nationally, 600,000 have registered, the Pew Research Center reported.
“Definitely there are going to be devastating losses for the immigrant community. There’s no way of sugar-coating that," said Lynn Marcus, who co-directs the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law.
"We expect there will be more detentions. There will be more efforts to deport people, maybe more raids," Marcus said.
That’s the biggest fear facing young immigrants who were granted protection under Obama’s executive order, issued in 2012.
“There’s a lot of depression and anxiety,” said Guillermo, 20, a junior at the UA who has Dreamer status. Guillermo, who asked that his last name not be used, said his mother brought him from Mexico to the U.S. at age 5.
He and others like him are called Dreamers after a piece of proposed federal legislation called the DREAM Act, which would give them legal status. Guillermo, who graduated from high school in Tucson, said he and others like him have no choice but to once again go into hiding.
“Due to either being denied the right to move forward with their lives, or being scared that either they are going to be deported or their families are going to be deported,” he said.
Others with the same status declined to comment, either on or off the record. One said a group of them were meeting this week to discuss options they have.
As Guillermo watched election returns with friends Tuesday night, he said began to feel a sense of doom.
“Definitely anxious. Oh my God. It’s slowly turning more red," he said. "I really thought [Hillary] Clinton was going to win because she appeared more moderate. But really, like ‘Oh my God! Oh my God! Trump is getting closer and closer.’ And then he won. And I was just shocked.”
Guillermo said for him and other Dreamers that shock was starting to settle in, along with fears that the election outcome will alter the course and quality of his life.
“I am back to a state of uncertainty,” he said.
Marcus, of the Immigration Law Center, said that feeling is understandable considering what his temporary status meant.
“One of the big issues that the Dreamers especially are concerned about is that in order to be granted Dreamer status, they had to come out of the shadows," Marcus said. "They had to give an address and contact information.
"And the fear is that all of this information will be used to round them up. ... People who are already dreamers, who have already come forward, they should renew their applications now." she said. "The Obama administration will process that information now and that will enable people to work and go to school for the time being."
Marcus said the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, especially for Dreamers, is not over.
“There’s a large sympathy in the country for people who were brought here as children and are contributing to the community," she said. "So despite all kinds of things that Donald Trump has said, it remains to be seen what he is going to actually do.”
That offered little comfort to Guillermo, who is having trouble seeing where his future leads. There is only uncertainty, he repeated.
“Right now I’m just huddling with my friends, so that we can make it through."