This past weekend, as rumors and verified news stories of ICE raids and arrests have circulated, many immigrants have begun to see their worst fears come to fruition: The Donald Trump Presidency is going to lead to increased panic, mistrust, and disruption in local immigrant communities. This panic has already lead to an immigrant community that has lived and worked among us now retreating in fear. It has also lead to misinformation and rumors. This post will try to clarify how ICE operates and what they are allowed to do within the law for those who fear removal proceedings, and for those who are simply curious about how the system works.
One of the rampant rumors on social media has been that ICE agents have set up checkpoints in Queens, or are randomly interrogating people in certain neighborhoods. Fortunately, these rumors have been false and are not an accurate portrayal of how this agency operates. ICE is a federal agency that is responsible solely for enforcing the nations immigration laws. In order to briefly detain someone for questioning, they must have reasonable suspicion based on specific articulable facts and therefore cannot simply set up shop on Queens Boulevard. That same standard is set for a raid: An Ice agent must have "reasonable suspicion" and cannot simply enter non-public areas and homes without a warrant or consent.
In the past, ICE has limited their resources to finding a particular non-citizen who has committed a certain criminal act. While many had hoped this would remain true under a Trump Presidency, reports from this weekend have shown that 25% of the aliens arrested had committed no crime. Therefore while many undocumented immigrants were wrong to believe the false information circulating over the weekend, they nevertheless were right to fear that they could be detained simply from being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
There are many resources for educating immigrants both in and out of status of their rights. Here is a brief review: ICE agents can only enter your home with a permission or a warrant. They typically come very early in the morning and are able to gain entry through trickery. Remember that you do not have to allow anyone to enter your home unless they show a warrant, and to make it clear that you do not consent to them entering your home. Additionally, you have the right to remain silent and to speak with a lawyer. These are extremely important things to remember.
If you have any concerns or fears, talk to a non-profit law group. Talk to any lawyer. Talk to government agencies in New York City who are doing their best to protect the rights of all immigrants. I am offering free advice to anyone who has questions about the new policies and what their rights are under in law, in both English and Spanish. If you are questioned, interrogated, detained, or arrested, I am also available to represent those in removal proceedings.