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Concern over immigration tactics hits Tennessee families

WZTV

The immigration crisis on Capitol Hill and at the U.S./Mexico border is reaching families in Tennessee -- causing concern and new uncertainty about the future of families.

President Donald Trump said in a speech on Tuesday that while he does not like seeing families broken apart, separating children from their parents is necessary to prosecute the parents for attempting to cross the border illegally.

Albert Bender who is an indigenous citizen and friends with many immigrant families says he is now worried about the future of legal immigrants who have lived in Tennessee for years.

We never thought of them having any problems in terms of the legality of them being here until they expressed their anxiety to us," said Bender who is planning a 4 p.m. Thursday protest at the Homeland Security office downtown off Rosa Parks Blvd.

"This is an all people's issue. It's not just an issue for one nationality."

Wade Munday who is the Executive Director of Tennessee Justice for Neighbors oversees the legal issues of immigrants across the mid-state. When hundreds of young students with deceased parents were relocated to live with family in Tennessee, Munday helped with their relocation.

He says customs and immigration agents have made his job immensely more difficult as they have started to ask for answers and justifications to questions not previously required.

"Families from other countries, whether they're here lawfully or not, particularly students, are very scared," Munday said. "There's a great deal of fear underlying the tension that's going on in the country."

The Trump administration is enforcing a policy endorsed by some U.S. border agents in 2014. They hypothesized that ramping up criminal prosecutions and separating families at the border would deter people from attempting to cross. That idea was shelved by the Obama administration, but the Trump administration adopted it as part of their zero tolerance policies.

In a survey of Tennesseans opinions Tuesday, several shared frustration at the crisis calling it inhumane, unfair or even un-American. Others specified they supported legal immigration -- accepting ills that come from that. Most all pined for a middle-ground solution more appropriate for enforcing laws and not destroying families.

"That overwhelming sadness is what we hear the most of," Munday said.

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