In the first 100 days of his presidency, Donald Trump’s efforts to fulfill his many campaign promises have been thwarted at every turn.
Trump has tried – twice – to implement a travel and immigration ban targeting Muslim-majority countries. He has continued to promise that Mexico will pay for a border wall (despite not having any sort of agreement with Mexico or its lawmakers about a payment plan). Most recently, a federal judge blocked his executive order withholding federal funds for sanctuary cities.
These failures notwithstanding, Trump’s efforts have definitely had an effect. Let’s look at immigration. While Trump’s orders have been stymied, he has still been able to enact high-profile raids on illegal immigrants across the country, and put quite a bit of pressure on those who seek to offer them aid.
As a result, this is not the easiest time to be an immigrant in America – especially an undocumented immigrant. Every person deserves the right to safety, though. Follow the below instructions to keep yourself – and your family – safe.
Four Ways to Stay Safe and In the Country
Stay Informed: The debate over sanctuary cities is not just raging in the White House or at the federal level. States lawmakers and local law enforcement are also rushing to make changes as Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice put more pressure on sanctuary cities. Not all of these changes are pro-immigration.
The Texas House, for example, recently heard SB4, a bill that would ban cities, universities, and counties from claiming “sanctuary” status. The bill was so extreme that it brought about hunger strikes from protestors. Opponents of the bill say that it will stop immigrants from reporting crimes or testifying in court, for fear of deportation.
Bills like SB4 may pass through state legislatures under your nose unless you make a point of staying informed about bills like this and voice your opinion to Congress. If SB4 passes into law, immigrants will have less options when law enforcement approach them about their status.
Not all of these measures spell doom. After all, lawmakers and lawyers have been working tirelessly to protect the rights of immigrants. In California, a bill has been introduced to help undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes and have served their time. Other sanctuary cities promise to stick by their status, even if federal funding is eventually pulled.
Know Your Rights: If ICE does appear at your door, you do not have to open it unless the officers have a warrant. Additionally, the warrant must be signed by a Judge. A warrant signed by ICE or DHS employees does not give officers the right to enter your home. Without the warrant, you can simply speak to officers through your door.
Do not resist if the officers use force, but do exercise your rights and state that you do not consent and that you would like to speak to a lawyer. You have the right to speak to a lawyer. If officers ask you to sign anything, don’t pick up the pen until your attorney has reviewed them.
Cooperate With ICE: Many immigrants who are under supervision orders have to regularly check in with ICE. While this visit can be intimidating, do not skip these visits. Failing to cooperate with ICE will only put you at a disadvantage later. Plus, even if you don’t go directly to ICE, they will seek you out.
Talk to a Lawyer: Even if you have a criminal record, you have options. Immigrants who have committed crimes are certainly targets, and many risk deportation. However, before (and even after) an immigrant is told to leave the country, they have options that will allow them to stay in the United States longer.
If you have already served your time and have moved on to be a productive member of society, you may be able to have your conviction vacated and strengthen your ability to stay in the country. If officials tell you that you will be deported, you have the right to speak with the consulate (or have your lawyer to speak with the consulate) in order to negotiate more time. Upon removal, you may also appeal the decision, or ask for asylum status.
All of this is extremely hard to do on your own. It is in your best interest to recruit a knowledgeable immigration lawyer to help you through the process and decrease your risk of deportation. Having someone with experience and knowledge of immigration law in the United States is crucial to your safety and security in the country.