Professors say students concerned over new immigration plan

Updated: Jan. 26, 2017 at 9:15 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - President Donald Trump discussed his immigration enforcement goals on Thursday saying he has put the first steps of his plans in place.

In the seventh full day of his presidency, the president pushed forward on one of his campaign's promises to build a wall on the Mexico border.

"It's not just a wall at the border, it's a wall between populations. It's a barrier," USC Professor Myriam Torres, who is also an immigrant from Colombia, said.

At the University of South Carolina, professors like Torres see firsthand the concerns of their students.

"Students that have DACA for example, they are very worried that they may not be able to go to the University or to hold a job," Professor Torres said.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA, was created by President Barack Obama and gave more than 700,000 young immigrants legal status and the ability to obtain work permits.

President Trump is also expected to put a temporary ban on refugees entering the U.S.

USC Professor Hamid Khan, a first generation immigrant from Pakistan, said the president's plan comes with a lot of unknowns.

"There's a lot of concern about the fact that not only is President Trump suggesting a complete halt to Syrian refugees, it would actually be a halt to all refugees," Professor Khan said.

On the other hand, President Trump said his plan is a move to strengthen immigration within the United States. He promised to focus enforcement efforts on criminal immigrants and those who have overstayed their visas.

"A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders. Gets back its borders," President Trump said. "From Day 1 I've said it, and I mean the immediate removal of criminal aliens. They're gonna be gone, fast."

While that executive order temporarily banning refugees hasn't been signed yet, Professor Khan said he can feel the tension in his classes where many of his students are from the middle east.

"The President will restrict all immigration from at least five Muslim countries and so as far as here at USC and immigrants at large, there's a lot of concern about will the visas be valid?" Professor Khan said.

White House officials said they are keeping the lines of communication open with Mexico's president after a meeting between the two was canceled on Thursday over disagreements about who will pay for the wall.

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