Indra Arriaga, Sin título / Untitled.
Acrílico, óleo y madera / Acrylic, oil, and wood.
Immigrant: Know Your Rights CIVIL RIGHTS, DACA, DETENTIONS, DEPORTATIONS, AND CHANGES TO IMMIGRATION LAW BY: SOL DE MEDIANOCHE
After learning the outcome of the General Election, some members of the Latino community contacted us, fearful of the positions on immigration laws and regulations that President Donald Trump espoused during his campaign. Because uncertainty is best combated by information, Sol de Medianoche and the TV show Latinos in Alaska held an immigrant rights roundtable on November 16. The panelists were Robin Bronen from the Alaska Institute for Justice, Nicolás Olano from Nations Law Group, and Tara Rich from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The discussion was moderated by Daniel Esparza.
The roundtable addressed the following questions, among others: What should one do if arrested by Department of Homeland Security’s officers? What rights do detainees have? What happens in a deportation? Who is at immediate risk after the inauguration of President Trump on January 20? How fast can laws change? Following are the panelists’ answers:
Tara Rich:It is very important to understand that regardless of your citizenship status and regardless of how you came to this country, you do have rights, and you have constitutional rights.
For example, when you are interacting with Department of Homeland Security’s personnel or with police you do have the right to remain silent, you have the right to refuse to give information if you are asked about your citizenship status, or whether you came to this country without the proper papers. You do have the right to remain silent, and not to answer those questions.
If you are detained in a car, you can give the police officer your license and registration, but you can refuse to have your person or your belongings searched, including your car. Even if the police have evidence of a crime committed in the car, they cannot search on it without your consent.
You also have the right to not have your home searched. If Department of Homeland Security’s personnel or the police come to your house, before opening the door, you should ask them for a warrant. You can ask them to pass the warrant underneath the door or hold it up to a window, so you can read it and inspect it. A warrant will say what are- as can be searched, and what the police can look for. You should read that very carefully, and make sure that when they are there, they look just for what they are allowed to look for.
One of our constitutional rights is the freedom of expression, and recording police interaction on your phone is pro- tected. If you are worried about the vio- lation of your rights or if you are worried about the way this police interaction will be driven, you have the right to use your phone or any other kind of recording de- vice. If you think that your rights have been violated, contact the ACLU.
Nicolás Olano:Department of Homeland Security’s officers can arrive at people’s homes early in the morning, appear without a warrant, and wake everyone up. But that should not happen. It is very important that you do not open the door, because when that door opens, they may argue that they came in for their safety, saying that they saw drugs or alcohol. That is when they begin to ask everybody for identifications, and pick up everyone. That is why it is important to document what happens with a phone or any other recording device. In case the officer breaks the law and does not do what he has to do during the detention, that recording can help the person when his case is taken to court
Robin Bronen:It is very important not to answer questions. You can even refuse to give your name and say where you come from. They can use anything you respond to as evidence that you are in the United States without documents. That is why it is so important not to give answers.
You have to understand that the police or Department of Homeland Security’s officers will be angry when you refuse to answer their questions. And they may try to threaten or intimidate you, even involving your family. The important thing is to not hesitate: you have the right to answer those questions later when you have a lawyer.
Daniel Esparza:As a community we can create a card that says “I will not speak and I want a lawyer.” If you are detained by Department of Home- land Security’s officers or by the police, it is possible to give them this card.
DETENTIONS AND DEPORTATIONS
Olano: Alaska is a very sui generis [unique] place, where we do not have a detention center. This is bad because once a person is detained there is very short time for the family to contact an immigration lawyer before the detainee is sent to another state. You do not have to wait to contact a lawyer until the detainee is in jail. From the moment he is handcuffed the lawyer should start working to post a bond in an immigration court.
The person who is already in jail should not speak, either. The officer can say “I’m going to take your children away,” or “I’m going to pick up your wife,” or even threaten him. Many do. They are cops. Their job is not to be your friend, but to deport you. At that point you should say, “I have my lawyer,” and you should not answer anything else.
What is a deportation process like? First you receive a document called Notice to Appear. This paper indicates that one must appear before a judge to be deported. The document must state what you are accused of. So when one is in front of a judge, the government must prove what is written in the notice.
Bronen:Being arrested for immigration reasons does not mean that you will be deported immediately. If you have an attorney, you may have the opportunity to stay in the United States. You need to be in front of an immigration judge that will decide whether you can do it or not. That is why it is very important to have an immigration lawyer who can make sure that the judge and the officers act in accordance with the law.
Many immigrants suggest not going to a judge, and instead voluntarily return to their countries. This is not always the best idea. It depends on the situation of each person. Most of the time it is better to be in front of an immigration judge to present your case.
DACA AND DAPA
Bronen:DACA was created by an executive order of President Obama. Thus, it is very different from laws, which were enacted by the United States Congress. As DACA is only an executive order of Obama, Trump is able to sign an order that reverses it. We do not know if he will, but this is one of the scenarios.
From this moment and until President Trump’s inauguration day, DACA and DAPA applicants are safe. As we do not know what will happen next, it is important to be prepared, and look for friends or family who do not have problems with Immigration to be your emergency contacts.
Alaska Institute for Justice is available to help DACA applicants. In case something happens to you, your emergency contacts will be able to contact us to initiate an immigration process and to make sure that you are well.
CHANGES TO IMMIGRATION LAW
Olano: With the inauguration of President Trump, DACA and the other executive actions of the president can be stopped. There are other immigration concerns that are not consecrated in executive actions, but are laws and regulations that Trump cannot immediately change, such as the spouses’ petitions. These cannot be changed overnight because they are written in law. To do something different the President would need the approval of the United States Congress, and that takes time, politics and money.
You have to be careful, for example, with 601A, which is the permit to enter and leave the country. President Trump could change it at any moment.
Bronen: Regarding the deportation of three or four million immigrants that President Trump announced during his campaign, we do not know what will happen. Trump has said he will apply this only to immigrants with crimes, but we do not know what this means to him.
Bronen:There are a lot of rumors about what is going to happen after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. In any case, before you act, it is important to make sure that the information you have is correct.
Esparza:The first thing that people should do is to contact a lawyer. We do not think it is a good idea to solve immigration problems “with my friend who helps me.” The risk is that they might make mistakes in the paperwork, and that can lead to a bigger problem.
One way to be prepared is to designate an emergency contact who does not have any immigration problems He can find a lawyer, or pick up the children at school in case something happens.
It is important to move quickly, especially in Alaska, because perhaps in the afternoon or a few hours later you can be on your way to Tacoma, or another place with an immigration court. And, as Mexicans say, you have to throw coins at the piggy bank because that process will create expenses.
Olano:It is also important to act in community. I think of the song called No me amenaces (Do not threaten me). Trump threatened us, but we have to say with the popular saying that “an informed soldier does not die in war.” Either we are one and we are together or we are separate and we fall individually. At this moment it is up to us to join together, to present ourselves as one group. We will defend ourselves.
Esparza:This is a good opportunity to unite as a community in the city, in the state and at the national level. We must act intelligently to show that we are not those people described by the President Trump during his campaign. We came to work, we are good people seeking for a better life.
PROUDLY POWERED BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE CO. Sol de Medianoche is a bimonthly publication of the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska