Putting public safety first

Tupper, immigration attorney discuss DACA rollback consequences

It’s been over a week since the President Donald Trump administration announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy would be rescinded; since then, there has been growing concern among those who have benefited from the program.

“Public safety in our community is diminished when we have any portion of our community that’s unwilling to talk to the police, afraid to talk to the police,” said Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper. “We need our whole community to be fully engaged, and the current political climate around DACA and immigration is making it difficult to keep those lines of communication open.”

Since the Trump administration’s annoucement, groups like Immigrant Allies of Marshalltown have made statements condeming the DACA rollback.

The policy got its start under President Barack Obama, and was designed to give respite to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents at a young age. It provided the opportunity for those individuals to get into higher education, get a driver’s license and work legally, among other things. A series of requisites had to be met to sign up for DACA.

Tupper said the entire Marshalltown community — not just the police department or city government — has worked hard to be inclusive and build relationships with every segment of the population.

“What I have noticed over the last year-and-a-half is that the Latino community feels maybe singled out by our political rhetoric, and they feel isolated a little bit,” he said. “What I’m hearing back from people is that they’re afraid to reach out to law enforcement, not because of anything that’s happened at the local level, but they’re afraid of what might happen from the federal government if they interact with the police.”

Tupper said criminals in local neighborhoods take advantage of that fear.

“They’ll tell people ‘If you tell the police that I’m dealing drugs, or you tell the police I’ve assaulted you, they’ll deport you,'” he said. “That’s not the truth, that’s not going to happen, but people currently don’t know what to believe, and they’re afraid.”

Earlier this week, a clinic was held by Iowa Justice for our Neighbors (JFON) in Marshalltown. It was an opportunity for those currently “DACAmented” to get legal advice.

“This month, because DACA was rescinded … we wanted to make this clinic open for anyone who wanted to renew their DACA, who are eligible to renew their DACA,” said JFON Managing Attorney Ann Naffier. “There’s a lot of stress, and a lot of concern and a lot of fear in the DACA community.”

There is a narrow group of DACA recipients who can apply for renewal before Oct. 5.

“The main thing they’re concerned about is money,” Naffier said of those looking to get a renewal. “It’s $495 … it could be a month’s rent, and it’s not necessarily something people had sitting around.”

However, many DACA recipients will be unable to get a renewal. Naffier said those previously protected by DACA who have any kind of arrest on their record could be vulnerable to arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Any of them that have any kind of arrests definitely will be worried, and should be worried, about being targeted,” she said. “People are really concerned about this, it’s not just DACA folks, it’s a lot of folks in Marshalltown and throughout Iowa.”

Tupper said immigration issues can be very political, but politics is not his concern.

“I’m really trying to stay out of the political arguments,” he said, adding his goal is to ensure everyone in Marshalltown “knows that the police department is here to help.”

JFON clinics come to Marshalltown on a monthly basis, with the goal of helping immigrants in town with issues in immigration law. This month’s clinic focused on DACA because JFON would not have been able to come to Marshalltown before the Oct. 5 renewal deadline, Naffier said.

The Trump administration’s announcement came with a six-month window for Congress to act on DACA, and the president has reportedly been working with Democratic leaders on DACA legislation, per National Public Radio News.

Despite the reported deal-making, Trump has made statements reiterating that a wall will be built along the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to NPR News, he also said things like “citizenship” and “amnesty” are not what his administration is trying to implement with the move on DACA.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com