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Immigrants In Stamford Share Post-Election Fears Of Hostility, Deportation

Yonatan Carillo, 21, a Stamford resident, said many immigrants are concern about what the election of Donald Trump means. He was at a post-election forum on the issue at Neighbors Link in Stamford. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
The crowd at Neighbors Link in Stamford during a forum Monday night on concerns for immigrants after the election of Donald Trump. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

STAMFORD, Conn. — Local immigrants who are worried about what the election of Republican Donald Trump could mean to them and their families gathered Monday night in Stamford to talk about the issue and hear what local leaders had to say.

About 200 people crowded into Neighbors Link in Stamford for the session, which attracted representatives from Stamford Police Department, the Board of Education and the Mayor's Office. 

Trump has promised to enact a hardline against illegal immigrants and cut immigration from Muslim countries. That has led to fear among immigrants about what it means for their families, said Michelle Saldivar, associate executive director from Neighbors Link.

"After the result of the elections, we had our clients and our community with various concerns come to us," she said. "There was a feeling a sense of uncertainty and feeling a sense in some cases of fear and panic." 

There are immigrants who have some family members who are in the country legally while others aren't. "We have a lot of families who have mixed statuses when it comes to immigration and are afraid and they have a fear of deportation and how that will impact their families," she said. 

Many of the clients are also worried about personal issues such as fears that immigrants won't be accepted and could face a "more hostile" environment in their day to day lives, she said.

Among the people attending was Yonatan Carillo, 21, who arrived in Stamford when he was 9 from Guatemala with his family. He is working and attending Norwalk Community College and plans on to move on to the University of Connecticut to study business and linguistics. He shares the concerns of many, including the fear that Trump will target Hispanics.

"The immediate one is that he is coming after Hispanics," he said. "You can't really tell if he is just talking about immigrants who are a danger to society or immigrants who are just here to study. Immigrants that are just here to be somebody in the future."

He also expressed concern about the composition of Trump's Cabinet and also Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, a social conservative who tried to undertake a number of controversial actions that were deemed to be anti-gay while governor of Indiana. Hispanics may not be the only people who are targets in the new administration, Carillo said.

While there are worries about what could happen to immigrants, at the local level immigrants feel accepted in Stamford, Mousumi Akter said. Originally from Bangladesh, she moved to Stamford two years ago with her husband, Sirid Islam.

A Muslim, she wears the hijab, a piece of fabric that covers her head.

"I don't have problems with anyone," she said. 

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