Immigration Raids Sweep the United States: How You Can Protect Yourself

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Last week, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a series of immigration enforcement operations nationwide, otherwise known as “raids” to crack down on illegal immigration. The operations took place over a five-day period in the metropolitan cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, and New York City, and resulted in the arrest of more than 680 individuals. According to the Department of Homeland Security, these raids were targeted at convicted criminals unlawfully present in the United States, persons who are a threat to our public safety, including gang members, and “individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws” by illegally re-entering the country after having been removed, including fugitives who could not be found after having been ordered removed by federal immigration judges. Additionally, DHS reported that of those who were arrested, approximately 75 percent were criminal aliens, convicted of crimes including “homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.”

Communities across the United States went into uproar, after reports began pouring in that hundreds of non-threatening individuals including mothers and children were being taken into custody and removed from the United States during these operations. One of the first such individuals to be arrested was Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, a Mexican mother of two U.S. Citizen children, who was detained by ICE at a routine check point in Phoenix, after having lived 20 years in that state. Garcia de Rayos had come to the United States illegally as a child. She was arrested during a 2008 raid on her Arizona workplace on suspicion that the business was hiring undocumented immigrants using fraudulent IDs. Garcia de Rayos was taken into custody six months later, when investigators discovered discrepancies in her employment documents. She pled guilty in 2009 to criminal impersonation and was sentenced to 2 year’s probation. Despite these offenses, Guadalupe was considered to be a “low priority” of enforcement and was required to check in with immigration officials.

After news broke of her arrest, the Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging Mexican nationals to contact the Mexican consulate for immigration assistance, information relating to their immigration rights, and protections offered to them by the Center for Information and Assistance to Mexicans (CIAM). According to the Foreign Ministry, Mexican consulates in the United States have allocated additional resources to protect the rights of Mexican nationals. The Foreign Ministry added that they anticipate these immigration raids will increase in severity and are likely to violate the due process of rights of Mexican nationals.

ICE minimized the significance of these operations claiming that these types of targeted enforcement operations were routine, and had been occurring regularly for many years, further suggesting that these raids would continue on an on-going basis as part of the Department’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. Secretary Kelly added that, “President Trump has been clear in affirming the critical mission of DHS in protecting the nation and directed our Department to focus on removing illegal aliens who have violated our immigration laws, with a specific focus on those who pose a threat to public safety, have been charged with criminal offenses, have committed immigration violations or have been deported and re-entered the country illegally.”

It’s important to realize that when immigration raids take place, ICE agents often break the law, and may violate your due process rights, especially when you don’t have a firm understanding of the law and believe that you have no rights as an undocumented person. Be prepared and informed of your rights BEFORE an immigration raid takes place or before going through an immigration checkpoint. Schedule a consultation with our office to discuss your rights and come up with a plan on what you should and should not do during an immigration raid. Know your rights, remain calm, and remember that you have the right to remain silent until a lawyer is present. Make a plan with your loved ones today so you are better prepared when ICE agents come to your door. Never lie to an immigration officer, instead remain silent. NEVER sign any document without a lawyer being present. If immigration tries to intimidate or force you to sign a document, REFUSE.

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Be Proactive NOW

  • Be prepared and plan ahead.
  • Contact or visit our office to be well-informed of your rights.
  • Be aware of documents that you should carry with you at all times such as a state identification or driver’s license.
  • Do not carry false documents.
  • Do not LIE to an immigration officer about your immigration status. You have the right to remain silent!
  • Carry a card that states that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent for use in case you are interrogated by immigration/police officers.
  • Always carry the name and the phone number of the immigration lawyer you wish to call if the immigration/police detains you.
  • Inform your neighbors, roommates, coworkers, and relatives, of their right to remain silent if immigration/police comes to your neighborhood or workplace.

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What to do during a raid 

  • Do not let any immigration official or public officer into your home/house/apartment without a court warrant. If they do not have one, they need your authorization in order to go inside. DO NOT open the door. Ask them to put the warrant under the door. The warrant has specific names of people that he agents are looking for and should be signed by a judge. You should not open the door if the agents do not have a warrant or if it does not meet these requirements.
  • If immigration officials or police officers enter without proper authorization, ask for their names and/or write down their badge numbers.
  • Obtain the names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
  • Remain calm and do not try to run away. If you do so, immigration/police may use that against you.
  • Refuse to answer any questions regarding your birthplace and your legal status, unless a lawyer is present.
  • If you have children in school who will not have someone to watch them while you are detained, say so, and ask to make arrangements.

Know your rights

  • You have the right to make a phone call
  • You have the right to speak to a lawyer
  • You have the right to remain silent unless your lawyer is present
  • The right to a hearing before an immigration judge.

If you have been detained by ICE, and would like to be represented by our office call us at 1 (866) 488-1554 to discuss your options.