One of the first actions that Donald Trump took after being elected president of the United States was to issue orders stepping up the enforcement of immigration laws. For example, undocumented immigrants became the target of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and sanctuary cities, such as Los Angeles, CA were told in no uncertain terms that they were to cooperate with the federal government or lose funding.
Whether a U.S. citizen, a “green card” holder or an undocumented immigrant, everyone living in the U.S. has certain basic rights under the U.S. Constitution, regardless of who is the President. In order to ensure that the U.S. remains a democracy, it is important that everyone asserts and protects their basic rights.
Whether dealing with (ICE) or other law enforcement officers, be it at home, on the street, or at place of employment, you have the right to remain silent and you may refuse to speak to immigration officers. If you are detained, you have a right to contact an attorney.
Generally, for ICE officers to be able to enter your home, they must have a warrant signed by a judge. You do not have to open your door unless an ICE officer shows a warrant. You can ask that the ICE officer hold it against a window or slide it under the door, if he claims that he has a warrant. Make sure the warrant has your correct name and address on it, otherwise the warrant is invalid.
Never sign any document without talking to a lawyer, if you are unsure what the document actually says. Do not rely on the ICE representation of what the document says. For example, ICE may try to get you to sign away your right to see a lawyer or a judge. There have been incidents where ICE officers lie to people in order to get them to open their doors or sign away their rights. Be very cautious and attentive.
If you have valid immigration documents make sure you always carry them with you, for example a work permit or a green card. However, make sure you do not produce any foreign country issued papers or documents, such as a foreign passport. Such papers could be used against you in removal (deportation) proceedings.
If you think ICE is about to arrest you, make sure you let the officer know if you have children. In cases where your children were born in the U.S. and who are under age 18, ICE may “exercise prosecutorial discretion” and free you from custody.
There have been many raids in big cities, such as Los Angeles, CA in the recent months. If you think the area where you live could be a target for an immigration raid, it is also good idea to have a plan in place in case you are detained (via www.nilc.org):
- Memorize the phone number of a friend, family member, or attorney that you can call if you are arrested.
- If you take care of children or other people, make a plan to have them taken care of if you are detained.
- Keep important documents such as birth certificates and immigration documents in a safe place where a friend or family member can access them if necessary.
- Make sure your loved ones know how to find you if you are detained by ICE. They can use ICE’s online detainee locator to find an adult who is in immigration custody. Or they can call the local ICE office. Make sure they have your alien registration number written down, if you have one.
- You can call the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) hotline number at 1-800-898-7180 (toll-free) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get information on your case’s status.
Knowledgeable and experienced attorneys of Alexanyan Law Group are on the stand-by to answer to any of your immigration related questions, and will act promptly to ensure your rights are protected should the need arise.