Editors' pick: Originally published Dec. 7.
On the night of Nov. 8, when it became clear that Donald Trump would win the 2016 presidential election, civil rights and immigration attorneys received panicked calls and texts from gay and undocumented clients asking what a Trump presidency would mean for them.
Among them was Gilberto Garcia, a New Jersey-based civil rights and immigration attorney. "I've received more than 20 messages from frightened people, especially immigrants," Garcia wrote in a message the day after the election. "It seems like Sept. 12."
Fearful that Trump will make good on his promise -- the centerpiece of his campaign platform -- to deport all illegal immigrants and "build a wall" in order to prevent more Mexicans from entering the U.S., Garcia's undocumented clients looked to him for reassurances.
They have reason to worry, because the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be going to factories and restaurants to arrest and deport people, Garcia said in a phone interview several days after the election.
"That's not my fear -- that's what he's said during his campaign," Garcia said. "If he's going to fulfill his promises all this is going to happen...so one day, all of these people all have to be concerned."
Of most immediate concern is that Trump will likely strike down all executive actions taken by President Obama, so the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for undocumented children who want to go to school will be at risk, said Garcia, who has been a civil rights attorney for 28 years.
"This can be catastrophic to young people who have been here at least 11 years" he said. "The requirement under the law was they be here since 2007."
Children of undocumented people who entered the country illegally as children haven't been able to normalize their status, because their families are also here illegally; as a result, they have had no way to get their residency, Garcia said.
Although President Obama may have deported more illegal immigrants than perhaps any other U.S. president, Garcia said, the humanitarian programs Obama instituted have given children of immigrants opportunities to receive an education and have been beneficial to the country.
"The people who voted for Trump -- who want a wall -- he committed to them, so he will eventually get rid of these humanitarian programs, and they are good programs for good people," Garcia added.
Among those with much to lose under a Trump presidency is Ruben, who came to the U.S. as a journalist and now runs a business as an undocumented U.S. resident.
Meeting at cafe in Newark, N.J. for fear of speaking on the phone, Ruben withheld his last name on concerns he'd be targeted for deportation.
Now in his 60s, he first came to the U.S. in 1963 as a child. His family ended up leaving the U.S. and returning to his native Argentina, where Ruben became an editor for a major news agency.
Recruited to work in the U.S., he entered the country legally in 1999 under a work visa. He remained in the U.S. for several years as a reporter under the journalist visa.
Although his attorney tells him that the only way he could normalize his status, or secure his residency, is if he were to be deported, Ruben said he finds himself living in "limbo," waiting to be discovered by the government.
Of greatest concern to him, he said, is Trump's rhetoric and that the president-elect incites violence against minorities and journalists with impunity.
"People who say 'Trump is the enemy of Latins, of foreigners,' should be careful, because he has no friends -- only him and his family," he said.
Ruben's attorney tells him to try to remain calm, saying Trump likely won't fulfill his promises, because to do so might hurt his many businesses given that "he has many illegal people working for him."
Ruben has a brother who is a native born U.S. citizen. If the ICE tries to deport Ruben, his attorney said, his brother would be able to sponsor him for legal residency.
In the meantime, he said, "I have to stay quiet, underwater."
He hasn't been able to normalize his status sooner, because he missed a window to gain residency through his former H1B visa. As a result, despite living and working in the U.S. for 17 years, he remains undocumented due to a technicality.
"I have a legal business, a legal Social Security number, a legal license, because of the incongruence of the system," he said. "I got these while I was legal."
Because of these same records, however, he feels it's a matter of time before he's discovered.
Asked how they're advising clients in similar situations to Ruben's, financial advisors are sanguine about a Trump presidency and have not received many calls from non-citizen clients with concerns about the election outcome.
Arjay Ignacio of Parsippany, N.J.-based Allied Wealth Partners, noting that a very small percentage of his clientele are non-citizens, said he advises clients that historically, there hasn't been a major difference whether a Republican or Democrat takes office.
"Of course there are side effects to the election process as laws are changed such as those affiliated with taxes, health care, etc.," Ignacio said, "but with the checks and balances integrated into our government this should be a fairly smooth transition."
Vincent Roth, vice president of wealth management at Merrill Lynch based in New York City, said he works with Asian, European, Eastern European legal immigrant clients, most of whom are small business owners with assets north of $1 million, and that they've all welcomed Trump's win, because his tax plan will benefit both their personal tax rates and business tax rates.
They're also excited that potential changes to the Affordable Care Act under Trump will bring health care savings for their businesses.
"They were, in the past, unable to hire new people, because it cost them so much as a business to pay for their families' insurance, so they'll be able to hire more people and grow their businesses even more because of the proposed changes," Roth said.
Trump's promise to build a wall at the Mexican border, frequently chanted at his rallies, also stands to affect undocumented immigrants financially, given Trump's plan to get Mexico to pay for the wall by choking off money transfers from illegal residents to Mexico.
Asked how this might work, Roth said, "I don't know if there will be major limitations on how much money can be sent overseas. With the rise of mobile payments, PayPal, etc., it's probably become somewhat easier to get money electronically," depending on amount of money.
"From a Merrill or Morgan account that would be tougher," he added.
And given the executive orders that have given millions of undocumented people temporary legal status, these same people worry that they've exposed themselves to the government and can be easily targeted since they're "in the system."
Ruben is hopeful that New York Mayor Bill De Blasio may destroy the database for the city ID program that contains the names and addresses of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants if a Trump administration were to request these records so he wouldn't be targeted for deportation.
If he's deported, Ruben's biggest worry isn't losing his car or that his bank accounts will be frozen, but that he'll lose the life and businesses he and his wife have built here.
He doesn't own property in the U.S. because of his tenuous status, but said, "Our assets are our clients, our work."
His wife is a bookkeeper, and his daughter studied to be a nutritionist under DACA and plans to earn her PhD.
"She's very nervous," about her future under Trump, he said, and she may not be able to complete her education.
Ruben noted that like him, many other undocumented workers pay their fair share of taxes.
"Like Hillary [Clinton] said, immigrants pay taxes more that Trump, for which they've treated us as idiots -- doubly," he said, referring to Trump's comment that he doesn't pay federal taxes, "because I'm smart."
Many illegals live in terrible anguish, afraid their families will be broken apart and that they'll lose everything. That means they're afraid to invest their earnings in the U.S. because of the uncertainty, Ruben said.
Among their fears is that "he will break apart undocumented families, taking away mother and father and making the children orphans," he said, adding, "He said he wants to give people jobs...they'll be working to care for those left behind in orphanages...concentration camps for children, hotbeds for abuses," he added.
He pointed to the damage Trump's rhetoric has already inflicted on Hispanic children who have borne the hatred he has encouraged. Referring to the videos of students in schools chanting racist comments, telling Hispanics to leave, he said Trump should be sued for his bullying.
"People compare him to Reagan, but Reagan didn't build a wall. He tore down a wall," Ruben said.
These are the most-feared scenarios, but there are agencies watching Trump closely for any legal and constitutional missteps.
With Trump having promised to commit war crimes such as killing the families of terrorists, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already warned him. "The things you want to do -- to keep Muslims out, bring back waterboarding, we'll be watching you. Anything you do that's unconstitutional, we will be watching you," attorney Gilberto Garcia said.
Garcia has represented many civil rights cases on behalf of undocumented immigrants over the years. In 2003, he represented undocumented workers who sued Walmart for underpayment and abuses. He anticipates filing more suits under a Trump presidency.
"I will be doing the same, anything his administration intends to do to revert rights of people residing under color of law, I will certainly be watching and will take opportunities to represent some of those people," he said.
Even if people are in the U.S. illegally, they should be protected by the U.S. Constitution, said Dr. Steve Pressman, professor of economics at Colorado State University. He noted that the due process clause of the 5th Amendment states that "no one shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process."
Although this protection makes it hard for the government to seize anyone's assets, the Trump administration can still try to do it, he said.
"This will tie up the assets for a long period of time-- until the court system declares that this can't be done," Pressman said. "This will also require individuals to hire attorneys, who may cost more than the assets that they are helping people protect."
Since most assets are fairly liquid, he noted that there are some simple things people can do to keep the government from trying to seize their assets. Money in bank accounts can be wired to a bank account in another country, Pressman said. Likewise, stocks and bonds can be sold, and the money can be wired to a bank account abroad.
"It is much harder to dispose of less liquid assets, such as homes and businesses, but most immigrants who are not in the U.S. legitimately probably do not have assets like this with high values," he noted.
If Trump carries out mass deportations, Pressman said there will be consequences for the U.S. economy. Firms will have to struggle more to replace workers who have been deported and, as a result, will have to offer higher wages to attract employees which in turn will push up prices for many goods produced in the U.S. and increase the inflation rate.
Among those fearing potentially sweeping changes under a Trump presidency are married gay couples.
"The first thing we thought with the election is, 'our marriage is going to be dissolved,'" said Jeffrey Richards, a 51-year old executive assistant at a New York City-based global executive search firm.
Richards married Carlos Gonzalez three years ago, cementing their 20-year domestic partnership.
Gonzalez, a small staffing company's chief financial officer, has worked for the female-owned company for 16 years, since the couple arrived in New York from Key West, where they met.
"The main reason we did it was, of course, love," Richards said, but also "to secure our assets with each other to make sure that if one of us passes, no family member could come and say, 'You weren't married; that's ours, that's ours, that's ours.'"
The couple moved to the New York area, because it's where Gonzalez grew up.
Gonzalez, a U.S. citizen born in Cuba, came to America when he was four years old in the late 1960s. In January, he was diagnosed with stage-4 colon cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy covered under Richards's insurance. "That was easily achieved because we're married," Richard said, adding that, "we're in New York, so we have a fairly liberal company, but that's not the case for everyone depending on area of the country."
President-elect Trump has expressed opposition to same-sex marriage, and although in a recent TV interview he said he wouldn't seek to overturn last year's Supreme Court Obergefell ruling, which constitutionally guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage, Trump said in January that he'd consider appointing Supreme Court judges who would commit to overturning the marriage equality ruling.
With an open Supreme Court seat and aging justices potentially stepping down over the next four to eight years, marriage equality proponents worry that would make it easier for someone to challenge the court's ruling.
"That was our major concern, because we want marriage like anybody else," Richards said. "We have assets together -- cars jewelry, artwork, a condo. We want to make sure that stays with us," he added.
If the ruling does get overturned, what would that mean for same-sex couples?
For one thing, they stand to lose the tax advantages the federal protection of marriage provides. If the ruling is overturned, Richards said, "couples like us will miss out on tax breaks and go from being married 'to individual' [income tax] filing status. That is our biggest fear with that."
Couples where one person earns a good deal more than the other would suffer the harshest tax consequences, according to Pressman. "By combining their income, they pay less taxes; no longer being permitted to do this, their combined tax liability is greater and the government collects additional tax revenue," he said.
Aside from the higher cost of piecing together the benefits they'd automatically receive through marriage with wills, other rights they stand to lose if marriage equality is overturned include health insurance benefits or Social Security benefits that can only be collected or shared with a spouse.
"With Obamacare on the chopping block, which would lead to tens of millions of people losing health insurance, having tens of thousands of people lose their health insurance would only compound our problems," said Pressman. "What is true of health insurance is also true of other employment benefits such as tuition reimbursement, long-term care and wellness programs that cover employee spouses."
Trump's election has taken a psychological toll as well, especially since Richards has been HIV-positive for 22 years.
"When you look at someone like [Vice President-elect] Mike Pence who proposed using money that was meant for HIV education and advocated for conversion therapy -- having that mentality in the White House is terrifying and scary in what they can do because it all comes down to the Supreme Court and stacking the court with very conservative judges," Richards said.
In the days leading up to the election, Richards and Gonzalez messaged with their lawyer and friend, New Jersey attorney Mary Ann Kricko, who shared these concerns about a Trump victory. "She was sick over it...she supports us and gay marriage and equality across the board," Richards said.
There are also same-sex married couples who fear losing the right to adopt if conservatism takes hold of both houses of Congress.
Because of the Republican party's official opposition to marriage equality, Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), said he's been hearing from hundreds of couples and individuals across the country afraid their marriages may be challenged or that they'll be unable to marry in the future.
"We are doing our best to provide accurate information so that people do not have to worry needlessly, but it is tough given the constant stream of negative anti-LGBT appointments coming from Trump and the horrific anti-LGBT track records of his appointees," Minter wrote in an email.
"The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued two decisions, in Windsor and Obergefell, affirming in the strongest possible terms that same-sex couples have the freedom to marry and that their marriages must be treated equally by both the federal and state governments," he added.
Even if Trump replaces Justice Scalia with a new justice who opposes marriage equality, there is still the same five-justice majority from those two decisions.
"In light of that strong Supreme Court precedent, we are confident that same-sex couples will continue to have a protected right to marry and that their marriages must be treated equally," Minter said.
According to Pressman, it may take two additional appointments by Trump to have the Supreme Court reverse its previous ruling, since the Court is usually reluctant to overturn a recent ruling that seems fairly popular.
Another way to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, Pressman said, would be through a Constitutional amendment.
This would require two-thirds of the states approving such an amendment as well as two-thirds of both houses of Congress, he said. "At present, there are not nearly enough votes in Congress for this to happen, and it is unlikely the votes will be there anytime soon," he said.
More worrying, the NCLR's Minter said, is the vitriol and rhetoric. He's "deeply concerned about losing ground in other areas -- health care, student protections and countless federal agency policies prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people."
Fortunately, he noted, the most important protections for LGBT employees and students are based on federal statutes that Trump can't change and even a conservative Congress is unlikely to alter.
"But having viciously anti-LGBT individuals heading up key federal agencies, such as the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, will be a brutal experience," Minter said.
Particularly troubling is the prospect of having federal officials who openly discriminate against students who are already vulnerable to serious harms caused by family and school-based rejection, he said.
Ignacio, the financial advisor, says has not received calls from concerned gay couples or questions regarding the president-elect and how his potential choice of Supreme Court justices might affect their finances.
"When working with clients of the LGBT market, I let them know that we are a progressive country, and any discussion in reversing progress is unlikely," he said. "In the event that a discussion of that magnitude does start taking place, then we'll start exploring our options. Until then, we stick to the plan and proceed business as usual."
Whether the U.S. is a progressive country has been called into question by the outcome of the 2016 election, however, and despite reassurances, there are many who are fearful they have everything to lose under a Trump presidency.