In the manner of totalitarian leaders threatening to clense the Nation of despised and unwanted populations—Need I mention Nazi Germany and the Jews?—President Trump kicked off his 2020 re-election campaign this past Monday with (what else?) a tweet threatening to deport “millions” of family members here in the United States illegally. As reported in “The Washington Post”
“President Trump said in a tweet Monday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities.
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”
ICE’s logistical ability to do this is subject to real question, see “The Washington Post” again with “Trump renews pledge to deport millions, but ICE reality is far more limited” but of course for those who are targets the fear is very real. At the present time the word per ABC News is that ICE is targeting “some 2,040 family members who are living inside the United States illegally who have been identified for expedited removal. Those people were identified as living in as many as 10 cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City and San Francisco.”
There are also rumors that ICE will go after immigrants family members here in New Jersey.
So, how to plan for this if you are an undocumented immigrant in the United States?
Here are Five Tips:
1. Find out what your rights are before ICE comes knocking at the door. I and many immigration lawyers like me are are always available to counsel you about your rights, depending on how long you have been here, whether you have immediate family members (spouses, parents and children under 21) , whether you have ever been in immigration court, whether you have a law enforcement record, whether you may already have an order of removal entered against you, and many, many other factors that will determine your chances of remaining in America.
2. Do the groundwork to prepare for ICE knocking on the door. This means not only consulting with an immigration lawyer, but also following his or her advice to get your immigration records if you lost them. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to various immigration agencies are inexpensive to make with a lawyer’s help and will result in your getting essential information about yourself. Plus, I have never heard of a FOIA request resulting in enforcement action against an undocumernted “subject” (you).
3. If ICE comes knocking, you do not have to open the door. You do have the protections of the Fourth Amendment to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” ICE has to have “probable cause” to conduct a search of your house, and that means showiug a legal family member at the door a valid search warrant. This, admittedly, is no guarantee against them forcibly entering your home, but you may be able to fight an ICE arrest of you in violation of the Fourth Amendment in court.
4.Never sign any document consenting to your own deportation or removal. I say this even if you have already have an order of removal against you. There are circumstances where you can still fight in immigration court to stay in America. I have handled many such cases, successfully.
5. Even if you have no defense to removal, you may still be eligible for a discretionary stay of removal from ICE. Check with an immigration lawyer to explore this possibility, especiially if you have US citizen children or relatives with serious illnesses who need your help.
Knowledge is power. In these troubling times, arm yourself with the weapon of knowledge by consulting with an immigration attorney to learn where you really stand.
Brian O’Neill, Immigration attorney in Morristown, NJ 201-803-2126 (ENGLISH), 973-978-4355 (ESPANOL), 201-803-3615 (РУССКИЙ)