Being an immigrant in the United States today means …

(CNN)The United States has a long and proud history as an immigrant nation. But those communities have been left paralyzed by fear following President Donald Trump’s sweeping immigration reforms.

Talk of a border wall with Mexico coupled with legal challenges to the President’s executive actions on immigration and a rise in hate crimes post-election, have left many feeling like outsiders in a country they once wholeheartedly embraced.

Now with federal agents scooping up hundreds in a series of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations, immigrants — here legally, some with American citizenship — reveal what it’s like to live in limbo and become marginalized with the flick of a pen.

… trying to act American

Arya Patole is a 26-year-old social worker living in Brooklyn, New York. Along with her family, she emigrated to the United States from India as a child, becoming a naturalized citizen 17 years ago.

“Even though I do have immigrant attached to my identity, I feel like I have assimilated so much into America that I felt like an American,” she told CNN, adding “But ever since this election and (Trump’s) rhetoric, it made me feel othered so quickly.”

It’s hardly the first time Patole has felt ostracized for the color of her skin but since 9/11, she says her family has learned to navigate their lives through any suspicion or hostility.

“We are brown and we kind of look ethnically ambiguous at times,” she said. As a result, Patole and her family make sure to adhere to TSA rules when traveling and “try our best to look American.”

But their coping mechanisms have had to go up a notch since Trump’s travel ban. Her father has suggested that she and her brother, who is also a naturalized citizen, carry their passports with them in case they need to prove their citizenship if conditions escalate.

By Darran Simon and Lauren Said-Moorhouse for CNN
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