The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has moved to issue guidelines to protect undocumented immigrants seeking medical help after concerns were raised by healthcare providers.

Medical professionals were increasingly reporting that the undocumented were worried about seeking treatment out of fear that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) employees could turn up at doctors’ surgeries and hospital to check people’s immigration status.

"This administration has sought to create a lot of fear and anxiety in immigrant communities to the point where they've stoked fears that taking your child to the doctor or school could result in deportation," Attorney General Maura Healey said.

Healey said her department had collected no data on the issue but had decided to act on the basis of anecdotal evidence.

The guidelines include advice on whether doctors are required to check patients’ immigration status and the legal rights of the undocumented.

Read more: Cry from the heart of Irish undocumented in plea to stop deportations (VIDEO) 

Public schools have also been issued with guidance about what to do if ICE visits or arrests a student and what information they should and should not maintain.

All of which comes at a time of increased arrests but fewer deportations.

Since President Trump was sworn into office in January the number of undocumented immigrants arrested has soared by 38% since the same period last year. In total 41,300 people were arrested of whom 11,000 had no criminal convictions.

Conversely, the number of deportations has dropped 12% but despite this, the Acting Director of ICE, Thomas Homan, says morale is high in the force as agents are now "allowed to do their job."

"Their job is to enforce the law, and that is exactly what they're doing,” he added.

H/T: Thomson Reuters/Chicago Tribune

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