One of the recent executive orders signed by President Donald Trump allows federal officials working along the U.S. borders to detain nearly anyone who is in the country without documentation and not just those who've been convicted of a crime.
Who and why someone could be deported is changing, according to Andrew Nietor, Chair of San Diego's Chapter of Immigration Lawyers Association.
"This atmosphere that we've been under just within the last two weeks which has been characterized by, at best, uncertainty but in most cases fear, is a very sharp and dark turn from what we've seen in the past few years and decades," Nietor said.
He's been practicing immigration law for more than 15 years. Most of the calls to his office have been from students who were registered in the DACA program but he also get calls from U.S. citizens who are concerned about relatives or friends.
Six to 8 million people in the U.S. could be targeted as deportation priorities.
About 170,000 of them call San Diego County home, according to a Pew Research Center study released Thursday.
Under the Obama Administration, the priority for removal were those with felony convictions, serious misdemeanor convictions or multiple misdemeanor convictions.
However, under the Trump Administration, the criteria for deportation, though still unclear, appears to be changing.
“Some of the language that is used by the Trump Administration includes not only individuals who have convictions, but individuals who are charged or who are believed to have committed offenses,” he said.
It's a promise Trump made during his campaign. Those who support his policy, applaud the move.
My grandparents they got their citizenship and did it the right way,” Jean Cauley told NBC 7 during a visit to San Diego. “That's kind of what America is all about.”
What's still unclear is who will determine whether someone is suspected of having committed a violation.
ICE San Diego would not comment on if they will be changing operations under the new executive order. Our questions were directed to the Department of Homeland Security.
Currently, ICE has a broad amount of discretion when it comes to undocumented immigrants.
Officials can detain a person, put the person on house arrest or have him or her check in on regular intervals. The decision is usually based on the risk of flight or potential danger to the community.
“Almost by definition they will have violated some law [by being in the country illegally], but within the law it also allows pardons and waivers and people to exercise their rights under the Constitution,” Nietor said.
The possibility of more deportations made national news this week, after Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, was deported to Mexico.
The undocumented mother of two, had been in the country for 21 years.
Garcia de Rayos was arrested in 2008 during a workplace raid. She was convicted of a felony for using false papers to work.
She was detained on Wednesday during a routine check in meeting with immigration officials.
Despite the conviction, she was allowed to stay in the country, as long as she complied with routine check in meetings with immigration officials.
During her last appointment she was detained and deported.