In an especially rough year for undocumented immigrants, the next two months will be an even more trying time as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) gears up for what is being called this year’s largest deportation sweep under President Barack Obama’s administration.
In the first week of January, as people came down from holiday bliss, those who crossed the border for the American Dream lived in fear. News broke in late December that ICE planned to raid the homes of adults and children who judges served with orders of removal. And in that first weekend, 121 of them – mostly Central Americans fleeing gang violence and living in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina – were taken into custody after a weekend sweep.
Based on an internal document and sources, Reuters learned that this time around, a month-long series of raids in May and June may result in the repatriation of hundreds of Central American mothers and children who have been told to leave the United States. This includes people who entered the U.S. as minors but have turned 18 since.
An ICE spokeswoman said she couldn’t “confirm or deny the existence of specific ongoing or future law enforcement actions,” but she did say that those who immigrated to the U.S. after January 1, 2014 are priorities for removal.
In response to the planned raids, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders once again spoke out against the deportations. For her part, Clinton said mass raids keep families living in fear. “I am concerned about recent news reports, and believe we should not be taking kids and families from their homes in the middle of the night,” Clinton said, according to CNN. “Large scale raids are not productive and do not reflect who we are as a country.”
Her comments are a complete 180 from what she said in 2014 when she called for the deportation of children and families when a wave of Central Americans headed to the United States to escape violence. In January of this year, she officially condemned these raids.
Sanders said “the painful and inhumane business of locking up and deporting families who have fled horrendous violence in Central America and other countries. I urge President Obama to use his executive authority to protect families by extending Temporary Protective Status for those who fled from Central America.”
While neither is in a position to do something at the moment, there are a few things all undocumented immigrants should know to protect themselves.
Disclaimer: This list is not legal advice; reach out to a lawyer for help with your immigration case.
Opening is not an invitation for ICE to come into your home, but according to the ACLU, keeping the door closed keeps you safer. Ask the agents why they are there, and have them slide information under the door.
Asking for a warrant is very important. You can ask agents to slide the warrant under the door, but don’t be fooled by an official document that’s not a warrant. ICE agents need to have a warrant signed by a judge if they want to enter your home. The warrant will spell out what the ICE agent is allowed to do and what areas of your home they can search, according to National Immigration Project. An administrative warrant of removal from la migra is not the same as a warrant signed by a judge.
Even if ICE does not have the proper warrant and you tell them that you do not consent to letting them in, they may try to force their way in. If this happens, the ACLU says to not resist. Instead, they suggest you state, “I do not consent to your entry or to your search of these premises. I am exercising my right to remain silent. I wish to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.”
Don’t sign anything that ICE gives you, unless your lawyer tells you to. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center says that you especially don’t want to sign a voluntary departure order without your lawyer’s input. “The Immigration Service may try to intimidate you or trick you into signing,” the ILRC said. “Don’t let yourself be tricked! You may be signing your deportation order.”
Contact a lawyer.
Your best chance at fighting deportation is through an immigration lawyer, and while it’s not an expense everyone can take on, there are options. Click here to find representation – some of them will take you on for free.