It wasn’t because they were planning to take a trip abroad.
Instead, the 42-year-old legal assistant in Tucson, Arizona, says she felt her children needed passports to protect themselves while going about their daily lives in the United States.
“I feel uncomfortable and I feel insecure because I have an accent,” said Duran, a naturalized US citizen who was born in Mexico.
She says all three of her children live in Arizona and were born in the United States, but she’s still scared that if they get pulled over one day, authorities won’t believe her and she’ll need to prove it.
“With the new administration, that fear is bigger than it used to be before,” she said. “I try to explain to my kids, that they have all the rights of citizens, even if they don’t have blue eyes, that they’re judging them for their color and they have the rights to be here.”
“Because of all the inaccuracies being broadcast, ICE understands how difficult it can be for the American public to sift through a multitude of misrepresentations to find the truth,” he said. “The facts are: ICE does not conduct indiscriminate ‘raids.’ ICE officers know their intended targets before setting out to make any at-large arrests. Officers do not randomly ask people for proof of their immigration status. Most people ICE arrests throughout the country are apprehended after being released from a local jail following an arrest for a crime.”
Joey Reyes started carrying their passport last month while getting a driver’s license renewed — and hasn’t stopped.
“It’s been so much on my mind lately,” Reyes said, “I even woke up from a nightmare where I was being detained.”
There’s no way to quantify how widespread the practice of US citizens carrying their passports has become. Plenty of Americans are going about their business without carrying passports or other identifying documents. And there’s no law stating that US citizens must carry identification with them in their daily lives.
But that anyone feels compelled to do it at all is a troubling sign of the times, said Carlos Guevara, a senior policy adviser on immigration at the advocacy group UnidosUS.
“It’s sad to say we’re having these types of conversations,” he said, “but they’re getting more frequent.”
Policy shifts are making many people feel more vulnerable
“It feels like something’s shifting right now, in the past four weeks,” Guevara said. Even events and policy changes that aren’t directly aimed at them have made US citizens and legal residents feel vulnerable, he said.
Advocates say US citizens are increasingly being questioned, too
Concerns about US citizens ending up in immigration detention aren’t new.
“It is ICE policy to carefully and expeditiously investigate and analyze the potential U.S. citizenship of individuals encountered by ICE,” he said.
ICE updates its records when errors are found, he said, and agents arrest only those they have probable cause to suspect are eligible for deportation.
The number of US citizens detained at any point is a fraction of the tens of thousands of people who are held in ICE custody daily. But advocates say even one US citizen detained is too many.
A recent analysis by the American Immigration Council, a Washington-based advocacy organization that’s suing the government over its recent efforts to fast track deportations, noted that more US citizens are being questioned by ICE, describing it as a “striking change.”
“In the first year after President Trump took office, ICE encountered 27,540 U.S. citizens. In comparison, during the last year of the Obama administration ICE encountered 5,940 U.S. citizens,” the advocacy group said in a recent report, which it said was based on government statistics obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.
ICE says the agency isn’t able to confirm information released by other organizations or the methodology used for their analysis.
That’s one more reason why Reyes — the theater producer in New York — has been reaching out to immediate family members and advising them to carry passports, too, even though all of them were born in the United States.
“In a sense, I felt like I was overreacting, but another part of me felt like I wasn’t. It’s just a matter of wanting to make sure that everyone is prepared as much as possible if anything ever happens,” Reyes said. “It’s something I wish I felt like I didn’t need to be prepared for.”
CNN’s Gianluca Mezzofiore, Priscilla Alvarez, Geneva Sands and Tami Luhby contributed to this report.