The anti-immigrant rhetoric and some decisions of the Donald Trump government have revived the fear of immigration raids and mass deportations in the United States. Recently, agents of the Office of Immigration and Customs (ICE) raided a dozens of 7-Eleven stores nationwide on suspicion of hiring undocumented immigrants.
And in South Florida, U.S. Border Patrol agents stopped a Greyhound bus en route to Orlando and demanded citizenship documentation, taking a Jamaican citizen in custody.
In confrontations like these, whether in public spaces, places of employment or private homes, legal and undocumented immigrants can exercise basic constitutional rights to respond to the authorities.
“These enshrined rights are applicable to all people regardless of their immigration status and are a muscle that people should use,” says Adonia Simpson, director of the Family Defense program of Americans for Immigration Justice, based in Miami. However, the lawyer emphasizes, that “does not guarantee that the rights are not violated; that immigrants are not detained.”
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These include the right to remain silent, the right to deny permission to a search of your person, vehicle or home, and the right to request a lawyer. What should you do when the autorieis ask for your papers? Here are some tips:
Everyone has the right to remain silent by refusing to answer questions. It is advisable to to give your name and the date of birth, so that your relatives can easily find you. But if you wish to exercise this right, say these words: “I exercise my right to remain silent.”
Do not lie or sign
You do not have to answer questions about place of birth or how you entered the country, or give explanations or excuses. But never lie, claiming to be a US citizen if it is not, or give false identity documents. Do not sign papers without legal advice either, as it may be your own deportation, or reveal your immigration status to anyone other than your lawyer.
Naturalized immigrants can inform agents that they are citizens of the United States. In theory, a citizen should not be detained by Immigration, but if the person ca not immediately corroborate their citizenship status by presenting a passport, voter’s card, naturalization certificate and other evidence, then they can be taken to a detention center.
The experts recommend that permanent residents keep their immigration documents with them, such as the permanent residence card or green card. In the case of foreigners with non-immigrant visas, the I-94 card, employment authorization or other valid document that proves the registration with the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). If you do not have them, stay calm and remain silent.
Memorize identification numbers
This includes the foreign A # registration number with a nine-digit series and, if arrested, the prison identification number or name. Also memorize the telephone number of a close relative, any medications you take and your current immigration status, as well as criminal records if any.
Consult with a lawyer
Before answering any questions, you can immediately ask for a lawyer. You are also entitled to a local call and to contact the consulate of your home country. However, the United States does not guarantee a free lawyer in immigration processes. And notaries are not lawyers.
Plan of action with the family
If you are detained, it is preferable to have an action plan outlined, with an authorized emergency contact to search your children at school and make medical and legal decisions on their behalf. Keep in a secure place proof of your physical presence in the United States such as rental agreements, income statement and financial information.
Deny the entry to the home
If ICE agents arrive at your home, you do not have to open the door unless they file a search warrant or arrest warrant. Ask them to pass the order under the door and verify that it is signed by a judge. A deportation / removal order (ICE warrant) does not authorize entry without your permission. If you want to deny their entrance, you can say: “I do not give you permission to enter. I will remain silent until I speak to an attorney. “
Sources: National Immigrant Justice Center, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Americans for Immigrant Justice, and the American Civil Liberties Union. For more information visit the websites of these organizations.