Student Response to Potential Immigration Reform

With Donald Trump assuming office under a new Republican regime, immigrants without lawful status around the country are concerned about their futures. Many of these individuals are students who have spent the last several years developing skills and increasing knowledge to become productive members of society.

Individuals without lawful status face dangerous consequences, including the potential to be forcefully removed from the country or to face years behind bars if they are caught returning to the country. Even immigrants who had received some type of legal immigration status such as through an employment visa or family-based petition are concerned about their status. Knowing their rights and potential ways to protect their immigration status is important. An immigration lawyer can assess each individual case to determine the possible


In some locales like the Harvard Memorial Church, community members set up sanctuary. This is a loose term that can mean any location where immigration enforcement officers are prevented from entering or requiring such officials to have a warrant before entering. Knowing of a nearby sanctuary may help buy some time for a student immigrant who is being pursued by immigration officials.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Under President Obama’s immigration policies, thousands of young immigrants were provided with temporary legal protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program. This program sought to provide a Social Security number and work permission to young people who immigrated to the United States while they were young. However, this program may be in jeopardy under the new regime.

Constitutional Rights

Everyone in the United States has constitutional protections. These protections include the right to remain silent if questioned by police and the right to consult an immigration lawyer or criminal defense lawyer. Additionally, undocumented immigrants may refuse entry to an immigration official until provided with a signed warrant.

Affirmative Immigration Options

Immigrants who have a valid basis to immigrate, such as being married or engaged to an American citizen or who are highly-skilled in a particular area may be able to petition for legal immigration status. An immigration lawyer can explain what options may be available, based on the particular circumstances of a case.

Defensive Immigration Options

Even if an undocumented student is apprehended, he or she may still have a number of defensive immigration options available. For example, the immigrant may be able to request a stay of removal. An immigration lawyer can provide further guidance.