This is a blog post and nothing in it should be considered legal advice. Please contact us or your lawyer for legal advice specific to your case.
President Trump has issued three executive orders targeting immigrants in the past week – relating to the border wall, refugees, and undocumented immigrants – and three more leaked drafts imply that more is on the way. The situation is changing constantly. We may update our website with blog posts, but we will be updating our Facebook page more frequently. Please check in with that for more timely updates.
Currently, DACA remains unchanged, but refugees and undocumented immigrants are being targeted.
To briefly summarize, two of the executive orders target refugees and visa holders coming from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia, and undocumented immigrants in the US. Any refugee or person with a visa from those countries will be banned. Undocumented immigrants who were not a priority for deportation may now be a priority. Undocumented people who have been here for fewer than two years might not get the opportunity to have a case heard by an immigration judge. Any person convicted of any crime or charged with any crime is now a priority for deportation, along with any person with a final order of removal (under Obama, people with old orders – any order prior to 2014 – were not priorities. Now, even someone with a 20 year old order is a priority). There are many more details, including how Trump plans to make this happen, but those are the most important points for people who might be impacted.
A third executive order deals with border security, ordering the building of a wall that has been estimated to cost $20billion and will be paid for by US taxpayers. It also calls for more draconian treatment of people at the border – including more detention of individuals and building more prisons, and allows for paying private prison companies to be contracted to do the work – a windfall for the prison industrial complex.
It is unclear how all of this will be implemented – there are reports of some ICE officers and attorneys who are not doing anything until they get clear guidance on how they are supposed to implement these new rules, and there are also reports of some ICE officers and attorneys who have decided to take this as an opportunity to enact new rules based on their own interpretation of the executive order. There was an unconfirmed report that ICE officers have been stopping and interrogating people at random. It seems that that report was not entirely accurate (they did pull over two cars in Kansas, but ICE says it was for specific people that ICE already were searching for), which also underscores the need to remain calm in this troubling time.
Talk with your lawyer if you are undocumented and have any criminal conviction or charge, or if you have a final order of removal. If you are a permanent resident, you should carry proof of that with you at all times. If you are undocumented, you need to know your rights. You can find a guide in multiple languages from the ACLU.
The most important thing to know is that you have the right to remain silent. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. In some states you are required to give your name. If the officer asks what country you are from, you do not have to answer. In the past, most people who were caught by ICE voluntarily gave their passport and admitted to being from another country. Without that information, ICE may not have been able to do anything.
Finally, be on the lookout for scammers! According to Media Matters, some internet trolls have started scamming people into giving up their personal information about their immigration status and then are passing that information along to law enforcement. Don’t give out ANY information about your immigration status to anyone but your lawyer.