AUSTIN - The fear of deportation among immigrant families and the recent flurry of ICE apprehensions around the country -- especially here in Austin -- have families running to passport offices.
Many parents are getting passports for their children just in case one of them is deported.
“With everything that's going on right now, with immigration, with ICE … we don't have any other choice than to get passports for the kids and for myself,” said Jessica, who is married to an undocumented immigrant. She only wanted to be identified by her first name to protect her husband. “Just in case my husband were to get deported."
Others, like Zuleyma, who is undocumented, said they are doing this for safety.
"Just in case something happens,” she said. “I have everything in order. I have everything I need for them to be safe. And if they have to go with me, they're going to."
Travis County's passport program manager Nancy Howell has worked here for 14 years.
"This is the most we've ever seen,” she said.
In a two-week time frame, from Feb. 13 to March 1 back in 2016, Travis County processed about 1395 passports.
During the same time frame this year, more than 2400 passports have been processed.
That is more than double last year's.
"We don't come here to make any trouble,” said Zuleyma. “We just come here because you know, we work hard."
ICE said its recent operations primarily targeted criminals.
But fear of deportation remains among undocumented immigrants.
"I am really afraid,” said Zuleyma. “Cause if I leave, my husband leaves. They (my children) don't have basically nobody to stay with."
Some are expected to come as early as five, three hours before the office opens.
And according to The Texas Tribune, this is a trend that has been reported across the state as undocumented parents seek U.S. passports for their American children.
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