Some Iowans Panic After Trump's Executive Order on Immigration

Jan 31, 2017

Yesterday, President Donald Trump fired the top federal government lawyer, acting Attorney General Sally Yates, after she took the rare step to defy the White House when she refused to defend new travel restrictions targeting seven nations which have a majority of Muslim citizens. The executive order signed Friday halts travel to the U.S. by residents of those countries, and suspends refugee admissions for 120 days. It also indefinitely shuts down the admission of Syrian refugees to the U.S. 

Since the order was signed, some communities in Iowa have been either scrambling to understand what it means for them, or panicking about what will come next. 

Sonia Parras Konrad is an immigration attorney in private practice in Des Moines. She also works with a group called ASISTA, which provides support for immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She says her phone has been ringing off the hook since Friday; Latino Iowans are scared. 

"There is a lot of confusion and fear. The confusion is about the meaning of the executive order," she explains. "We have victims of domestic violence and sexual assault who are key witnesses to assist in key investigations in Des Moines. They are concerned moving forward because one of the things they don’t know is if officials will start enforcing federal immigration directives." 

"It's having a chilling effect already on victims who were reporting and involved in our investigations. This makes our communities less safe." 

During this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with Parras Konrad and Joe Henry, who is on the board for the ACLU of Iowa and is National Vice President for the Midwest Region of the League of United Latin American Citizens.