Ever since the President signed his Executive Order in January to ban entry of just about anyone from seven predominantly Islamic countries, into the United States, the activity of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been unprecedented.
Despite the Ninth Circuit Court striking down that order as unconstitutional on religious grounds, because it was focused entirely on restricting access of Muslims, the President’s vow to deport all undocumented immigrants, without exception, has set in motion a number of very scary realities.
Beyond the recent spate of heinous vandalism to Jewish cemeteries and synagogues, and Muslim mosques, and the murders of Sikh and Indian Americans, ICE agents have been unleashed.
En masse, ICE is conducting sweeping raids, across the country – even laying in wait – to pick up and deport undocumented immigrants, from locations never before imagined.
ICE agents are targeting metro bus stops and 99 Cent Stores, and have even detained and deported people as they arrived at our airports. It seems that no one is above scrutiny, even documented immigrants, and U.S. citizens.
At LAX, in early March, a family from Afghanistan, all of whom held proper visas, was denied entry, separated, and detained by ICE for 40 hours. The family’s attorney eventually secured their release.
My office manager, who is a U.S. citizen, was stopped by an ICE checkpoint at an entrance to LAX, while on her way to pick up her father; ICE was requiring everyone to provide proof of citizenship before being allowed to proceed.
She was detained and released only after she showed the ICE officer her passport, proving she is a U.S. Citizen.
I went to a hearing at the criminal court in Pasadena California two weeks ago to dismiss a client’s criminal conviction so we could schedule his green card appointment.
After the case was dismissed, and as I was leaving the courthouse, I witnessed ICE agents jump and arrest a man, who was also exiting the courthouse after attending his parole status hearing. These ICE agents cuffed him, threw him into the back of a van, and drove off.
According to journalists covering the story for the online publication Pasadena News Now, the man’s attorney said, “… in his 15 years of practicing law, he has never before seen or even heard of immigration agents waiting outside a court hearing to confront and arrest a subject.”
Even the son of “The Greatest of All Time,” Muhammad Ali, was detained and asked about his name.
Fortunately, though, many people, from every strata of our society, are organizing and resisting against this intimidation, and they are coming to the aid of those, like the family from Afghanistan.
Checks and Balances
Ours is still a country ruled by laws and courts. That fact has been clearly demonstrated by the many honorable and courageous U.S. attorneys and federal judges, who are speaking truth to power, and doing as they are duty bound to do: Uphold the law, and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
However, if this is the new normal – and if it is, hopefully, it is so for a only a short time to come – everyone must become extra vigilant, and learn what to do, and what not do if stopped for questioning, and detained by ICE.
Here is a helpful list:
1. If you cannot understand what the ICE agent is saying to you, remain calm, and request a translator. Don’t say anything until the translator arrives.
2. Don’t ever lie to the ICE agents or provide any false documents like a fake I.D., even if it has your real name on it. The smallest false statement or perceived untruth will immediately justify the agent’s suspicions that you are hiding something, and you’ll be subjected to a rigorous interrogation, thereafter, or worse.
3. Do not sign any documents until you have first spoken with an immigration attorney. There have been many reported instances of ICE officers pressuring detainees to sign a document, which results in their ultimately waiving their right to see a judge, and thus agreeing to be deported without a hearing. If you sign such a document you could be deported before any legal action on your behalf, can begin.
4. If ICE agents want to enter your home you must ask to see, and they must present to you, a warrant signed by a judge. If they do not have a warrant signed by a judge they do not have the legal right to enter your home.
A proper warrant signed by a judge will typically have the name of the court prominently displayed as a header; it will specify a reason and limited area for the search; and it will have a judge’s name and signature at the bottom.
A “warrant” signed by an ICE officer has no legal bearing in a U.S. court, and any entry into your home by that officer based on such a document is a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, i.e. – “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Unfortunately, even if you follow through on all of the forgoing information and justifications to protect your rights, ICE still might take you into custody.
So, if you have children, you need to plan for their care and safety by friends or relatives, if that worst-case scenario occurs and you are separated from them, and detained.
Of course, it is critically important to know what to do and where to seek assistance if you are sent back to your country of origin. A deportation order never expires regardless of how many years ago it was issued. So if that is hanging over your head and you fall into custody of ICE, you could be gone in a matter of hours. Failure to plan is a plan for failure.
If you are undocumented, and especially if who have lived, worked, and contributed here for many years, and you have family born in this country… don’t be complacent or lulled into a false sense of safety.
I have two, very law-abiding, hard-working, undocumented clients, for whom I am acting to secure legal status, and they both on separate occasions in the last few weeks, narrowly avoided ICE check points and escaped detention. I’m hoping their luck doesn’t run out before I can complete their cases.
It is imperative for you to know your rights, today, because if you are taken into ICE custody, tomorrow may be too late.
If you have any questions about whether your status is making you vulnerable to detention and deportation by ICE, or if you’re concerned about a family member or a friend, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or review my entire website for information about me and my firm.
My team and I have safely navigated individuals and families through the complex U.S. immigration laws for more than 30 years. We handle all types of immigration matters, so we have the experience and expertise to protect our clients at their most severe moments of crisis.