Immigration Lawyers in the City are Overwhelmed with Cases Since Trump Took Office

Immigration lawyers across the city say the number of people contacting them for help has surged following President Trump's executive order and federal immigration raids targeting people living in the United States illegally. Queens reporter Ruschell Boone reports.

Shahid Ali says his law practice has never been busier . Anxious immigrants have been contacting him ever since President Trump took office. This week, he's been getting calls from people fearful they will be picked up by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. 

"My office has been completely inundated by hundreds of calls," Ali said.

Ali also been retained by the families of several people arrested by ICE in Queens and Long Island in the last week, part of a nationwide enforcement surge that picked up 680 people, including 41 in New York.

"At this point they just want to know what is going to happen," he said. "Are they going to be deported? And if they are going to be deported how long will it take?

While most calls are from Mexicans immigration attorneys across the city say they're also hearing from immigrants who've come from all over the world.

"Are they going to come looking for us in our business place? or jobs? What's going to happen to our kids? What's going to happen?  Should we get rid of our property? "

The Legal Aid Society says more than 150 people called its immigration hotline in just two days. This man who was afraid to give his name said he hired a lawyer — with the help of Sikh community activist Harpreet Singh. He came to the United States 13 years ago from Punjab India and is undocumented. He wants to know if he qualifies for programs that would protect him from deportation.

"He did see the attorney, he spoke to them and right now he's just laying low and he may not get exactly what he's looking for," said community activist Singh.

Undocumented immigrants are not the only ones afraid of being deported. Many green card holders are worried too.

"What mostly puts Green Card holders at risk of deportation are particular criminal convictions or if they left the country for a long time," said immigration attorney Natalia Renta.

Renta also works with the advocacy group Make the Road NY. 

"The only real protection against deportation is U.S. citizenship," Renta said.

Even so, she says the city's undocumented still have a lot of protection under U.S. laws.

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