Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids have been documented in every corner of the United States, pulling immigrants from their homes and tearing apart the lives of their families. There have been stories of neighbors creating human barriers to prevent ICE agents from getting past the front door of their friend’s houses during attempted raids, though a more effective way to avoid an ICE raid is to be well-versed in immigration law. If you or your family are immigrants, it’s important to know what can legally be done if you get arrested or come into contact with the police.
First, understand the difference of being an undocumented versus a documented immigrant. You are documented if you have one of the following:
You are in the U.S. on a visa
You have a green card
You have asylee status
Note: a work permit does not necessarily mean you are documented
You are undocumented if:
You came into the U.S. without authorization
Your visa or immigration status has expired
You have been ordered deportation in the past
If arrested, you may risk deportation if any of the following conditions are met:
You're not a U.S. Citizen. Even if you have lived here for many years, it doesn't mean you are safe.
Documented immigrants can be deported if they are convicted of crimes.
Undocumented immigrants can face deportation at any time, regardless of whether they are convicted of a crime.
Here are some ways to protect yourself from being deported from the U.S.:
Understand your status. Learn whether you are considered documented or undocumented, but even if you are documented, know what activities you can and cannot engage in. Are you allowed to work? What kind of visa do you have?
Get naturalized citizenship. Permanent residents who are eligible should seek citizenship as soon as possible.
Avoid criminal conviction. If convicted of offenses such as fraud, drug possession, rape, murder, or manslaughter, you could be removed from the U.S. immediately.
Observe traffic laws. Driving without a license will attract unwanted attention from immigration authorities. If you need to drive, make sure you observe all traffic laws to avoid being stopped by the police.
Remain silent and get a lawyer. If an undocumented person is questioned by a police officer, it is best to remain silent and not talk to the authorities. If ICE raids your home or place of employment, you should refuse to answer any questions or show any documents proving you are a citizen of another country. Consult a lawyer before answering any questions, as ICE cannot question you further if you have requested an immigration attorney.
Immigration laws are always changing—and more so today than ever before—so it’s always a good idea to seek a professional immigration attorney to take the right steps if you find yourself in contact with the police, or are at risk for deportation.
Have a question about the ICE raids or deportation?
Ask me your burning question…for free! In Cleveland, I rode myself on offering compassionate and empathetic legal services to immigrants and citizens alike. Immigration law can be confusing. Ask me your question, and I’ll answer it for no charge.