The Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Europeans often hid in plain sight as Latin Americans, Asians and others living illegally in America were sent packing. But now they’re starting to realize they are not immune to President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, and they’re worried.
The number of Europeans deported this federal fiscal year from the United States could surpass last fiscal year’s total, according to figures provided to The Associated Press by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
From Oct. 2, 2016, through June 24, more than 1,300 Europeans have been removed, compared with 1,450 during all of federal fiscal year 2016 — the last under President Barack Obama. The agency didn’t provide estimates broken down by calendar year.
In San Jose, Calif., an HIV-positive Russian asylum seeker faces possible deportation after overstaying his visa. In Chicago, Polish and Irish community groups say they’re seeing inquiries about immigration and citizenship-related services surge as people seek legal protections.
And in Boston, John Cunningham, a well-known Irishman who had overstayed his visa by 14 years, was sent back to Ireland last week, sending shivers through the city’s sizeable Irish expat community.
“People are very, very concerned and lying low,” says Ronnie Millar, of the Boston-based Irish International Immigrant Center. “The message is that if it can happen to John, it can happen to anyone.”
Europeans comprise about 440,000 of the estimated 11 million people living illegally in the United States, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Since just before Trump was elected last November, the United States has deported 167,350 foreigners, compared with 240,255 in all of fiscal year 2016. Immigrants from Latin America make up the most by far, with Mexico leading the way at about 93,000.
Among Europeans, Romanians make up the largest share, with 193 deportations so far in fiscal year 2017. Behind are Spain at 117; the United Kingdom at 102; Russia at 81; and Poland at 74. Those countries were also tops last fiscal year.
Immigrant advocates say they’ve been urging individuals to know their rights if they’re stopped and for parents to make arrangements for their children in the event they’re detained.
“The worst aspect of these numbers from our perspective is that our community organizations do not know who is being deported and why, and are unable to send immigration attorneys to assist them,” says Dmitri Daniel Glinski, president of the Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx.
In California, San Jose resident Denis Davydov was detained for more than a month after returning from a vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
He was eventually released after his lawyer argued Davydov was legally allowed to re-enter because he’s currently seeking political asylum for being gay and HIV-positive. But he could be forced to return to Russia if his request is denied.
Davydov says the experience of being detained has left him feeling vulnerable.