Local new immigrants say government shutdown is targeting them, restricting their legal status

BURIEN, Wash. – President Trump says he’ll continue supporting a government shutdown until he gets money for his border wall. That rhetoric from Washington DC has a direct impact on immigrants in Washington state.

Anytime there’s national attention on immigration, we hear about a flood of calls of concerns at Mexican consulate offices like one in Capitol Hill.   And those concerns stretch from new immigrants in Burien to migrants seeking asylum at the border.

These old photos tell the story of a family torn, broken apart by a border between two countries.

monserrat padilla family.JPG

“I think every day, as a child who has been raised here since the age of two and then at the age of 15 being separated from my mother, every day is a struggle,” said Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network Coordinator Monserrat Padilla.

Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network Coordinator Monserrat Padilla is legally in Seattle and her mother in Mexico without proper documentation to join her.  With President Trump’s quest for a border wall, no plans soon for a reunion.

“There was a new twist to this fearful rhetoric he’s been spreading across the country,” said Padilla.

Padilla says the president’s argument is simply fear mongering.  But Padilla says there is a real fear by the people at the border seeking asylum from life and death situations in Mexico and Central America.

“We had a few of our attorneys lending legal services over the last couple of weeks,” said Padilla.

Sandy Restrepo is with Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, which offers legal aid to immigrants.  In photos, you can see some of their staff is volunteering at the border to help asylum seekers, while their family members, who are already in the US, are feeling the pressure from the administration.

“They feel they’re being targeted, and their whole government shutdown is a cause of them being here when they’re just trying to have a better life for their families,” said Restrepo.

Restrepo says the government shutdown also means immigration courts are closed, making her clients with pending cases nervous about the future.

“I have clients that are seeking asylum and they have court dates that were preset already for months in advanced where they were turning in asylum application and right now all the courts are closed.  No one is there to accept their application. The judges aren’t hearing any cases at all,” said Restrepo.

Asylum applications have deadlines.  Restrepo says the president’s demands are putting all Americans, not just new immigrants, at risk.  She says lawmakers should come up with a better plan.

“It would have to be a compromise where all parties can come together to see an outcome where there’s minimal damage done.  Just focusing on a border is not going to help anyone,” said Restrepo.

Colectiva Legal will send another group of lawyers to the border next week. Regardless of the government shutdown, Restrepo says more people are making their way to our southern border seeking asylum.

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