Updated February 26, 2017
Considerable anxiety surrounds the news of increased immigration enforcement raids. While the President may benefit from “shock value” and fatigue, our immigrant neighbors are harmed by it.
In times of heightened anxiety, information is power. When sharing reports about raids, please couple it with empowering information to assist our immigrant neighbors more effectively. Good and shareable sources are below. This list is not legal advice. It is important that people evaluate their own options.
Everyone has steps they can take now to become more prepared.
Calmly, we have to assume ICE raids are going to continue. People with prior orders of removal are often the target, but history has shown us that other community members become detained during enforcement actions as “collateral” targets. Advocates can help by increasing access to justice and good information.
Generally, individuals fearful of raids should:
- Evaluate their options with an immigration attorney or BIA accredited representative. A good place to start that search is the local bar association, like the Maryland State Bar Association or the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Ask specifically for low or no cost services, if necesssary.
- Make sure the person giving immigration advice knows what they are talking about. In the U.S., notarios are not qualified to offer legal advice. Ask the attorney you are speaking with about their qualifications. The attorney will understand why you are asking them for this information. For more information about stopping notarios, please see information from Ayuda.
- Attend court dates. People who miss court and don’t have a good reason may get an automatic order of removal. If someone has been in ICE’s custody at any time, they should call the Immigration Court hotline every two weeks to find out about possible court dates. The hotline number is 1-800-898-7180 (toll-free).
- Know their rights and learn what to do if ICE comes to the home, the workplace, or stops someone while driving on the street. The ACLU has excellent information on this and other rights. MIRC has assembled many resources in Spanish and English that include important information about rights.
- Carry your rights so you can assert them without having to speak English. https://www.ilrc.org/red-cards.
- Report the raid. United We Dream hotline (1-844-363-1423). Go to United We Dream’s twitter to learn more about the kinds of things you should and can report.
Know that most people are entitled to an immigration court hearing before removal.
No one should sign immigration paperwork without speaking to an attorney. A document’s title may not explain how signing the document will affect the person, and one cannot assume that ICE will give accurate information about the consequences of signing. Start learning now about different scenarios. People who have been here fewer than two years may be at more risk of “expedited removal” (removal without a court hearing) and should be sure to consult an attorney as soon as possible.
Create a preparedness plan.
- A preparedness plan will help make sure someone’s family is taken care of while a family-member is detained. People can start gathering certain documents and information today. Plan requirements are state-specific, so it is a good idea to start the plan by asking a nearby organization for help. A sample plan is available at: https://www.ilrc.org/family-preparedness-plan.
- Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service also has excellent resources, including a safety planning toolkit.
- Women’s Refugee Commission has wonderful resources in English and Spanish, particularly focusing on those who worry about family separation.
- Know how to find people who are in custody.
- The federal government has a locator for loved-ones. To use it, you will need to know the noncitizens “alien” or (“A”) number. The “A” number is likely to be on any paperwork received from USCIS or ICE. Without an “A” number, the person using the locator is going to need to know exact, correct spellings to be able to identify the detained person.
- Some people may not be held in a federal detention center. If the person does not show up through the ICE locator, it is advisable to call certain local facilities. Facilities that may have detainees are listed by state at this link.
If you have gotten this far, you obviously care about our immigrant neighbors.
Please consider volunteering your time, talent, or treasure. Access to an attorney increases the chances a family in removal proceedings will be able to stay in the U.S. by 14 times, but immigrant families need more than just legal services. Look up a local nonprofit near you to see what your community needs are. MIRC has assembled a list of organizations needing many kinds of volunteers, from legal services, to interpreting, to pro bono counseling services, to visits to immigrants in detention, to donations of money, food, or clothing.
Everyone has a role to play, and together we can make a difference!