A recent article by The Washington Post states that “undocumented immigrants with no criminal records were arrested and could potentially be deported sent a shock wave through immigrant communities nationwide amid concerns that the U.S. government could start going after law-abiding people.” Lisa Rein, Abigail Hauslohner, & Sandhya Somashekhar, “Federal Agents Conduct Immigration Enforcement Raids in At Least Six States,” Washington Post, February 11, 2017.
Hundreds of immigration-documentation-related arrests in at least six states have ensued in the past few weeks. Although officials claim that only criminals were obtained, records are contrary. In fact, last month Donald Trump issued an order to the Department of Homeland Security that permitted the conviction of undocumented folks with minor offences, or none at all.
If you are not an attorney and are looking for ways to help, it’s important that you pass on the tips below to anyone you know who is (or might be) undocumented, per the National Immigration Law Center.
1. If they come knocking, don’t answer.
To enter your home, ICE needs a warrant signed by a judge. Unless you’re presented with a warrant, do not open the door. If they want to show it to you, they’ll likely hold it against a window, or slide it under the door. If presented with a warrant, make sure it has your correct name and address on it.
2. “I need to talk to my attorney.”
Never forget that you have the right to a lawyer, and that your lawyer is even permitted to be there with you if you are questioned by law enforcement.
3. Don’t sign anything without talking to a lawyer.
Sometimes, ICE will try to get you to sign your rights to a judge or lawyer away. Never sign anything without knowing exactly what it means.
4. Always keep immigration documents handy.
From work permits to green cards, it’s important that you always keep it with you in the event that you need to be identified. However, do NOT carry papers or a passport for another country, because this can be used against you later.
Resources provided by the National Immigration Law Center:
- “Nonprofit organizations that provide low-cost help can be found at immigrationlawhelp.org.
- The immigration courts have a list of lawyers and organizations that provide free legal services: justice.gov/eoir/list-pro-bono-legal-service-providers-map.
- At https://www.adminrelief.org there is a search engine into which you type a zip code and then are given a list of all the legal services near you.
- You can search for an immigration lawyer using the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s online directory, ailalawyer.com.
- The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild also has an online find-a-lawyer tool: https://www.nationalimmigrationproject.org/find.html.”
If you’re an attorney and are looking for ways to help, watch the following seminar on the “Muslim Ban” and other similar immigration orders. The seminar can be streamed on the Austin Bar website here: http://www.austinbar.org/for-attorneys/online-cles/updates-on-recent-executive-actions-impacting-us-immigration/.
If the system requests a password, try ABarCLE2016. Also, feel free to download the PowerPoint presentation through the link above.
Also, Christine has decided to share with attorneys her Medical, Educational, and Other Power of Attorney. This document can be a great just-in-case document for an immigrant worried about getting caught up in this immigration madness, and worried about what would happen to his or her children.
Hopefully if attorneys volunteering to work with immigrants have more access to a document giving some insurance/protection, we can all provide more peace of mind to a community under siege. Attorneys may email [email protected] to ask for our Med/Ed POA. (Christine has also reached out to TexasLawHelp to hopefully develop a pro se version of this document soon for non-lawyers to be able to use with less attorney assistance needed.)
Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” And we will be successful.