Know Your Rights: Be Prepared For Potential Immigration Raids

We do not know how President Elect Donald Trump will choose to enforce immigration laws specifically.  What we do know is that he ran a campaign on the promise to deport millions of people and that since Election Day he has reinforced that promise by stating that he plans to deport and incarcerate at least 2-3 million people who “have criminal records.”  It is still unclear how he plans to deport so many people, but we know from past presidential administrations that he may choose to enforce his policy through immigration raids—at home, on the streets, and/or in the workplace.

Knowing this, we think it is important that Union members and their families know their rights for potential encounters with law enforcement.

There are certain rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution that all people, regardless of immigration status, are entitled to.  Here are some important rights to remember if you encounter a law enforcement officer.

  1. Right to Remain Silent:  When being questioned by a law enforcement officer, you have the right to remain silent.  This means that if the police or immigration authorities arrive at your workplace or home, or stop you driving a vehicle or on the street, you have the right to remain silent when questioned by that officer.  This includes if you are asked about your immigration status, country of origin, how you entered the United States, etc.  Should you decide to exercise this right, you should tell the officer out loud.  Anything you do or say can be used against you later in court.
  2. Right to An Attorney: If you are arrested, you have the right to an attorney.  When being questioned by an officer, you can ask if you are being arrested.  If the officer says you are being arrested, you may remain silent and demand to speak to your attorney immediately.  If the officer answers that you are not being arrested, you can ask whether you are free to leave.  If the officer says you are free to leave, you should leave calmly, without arguing or obstructing the officer.  If you are detained and asked to sign something, you do not have to sign anything without speaking to your attorney first.
  3. Right to Not Consent to A Search: If an officer asks to search your person, car, or home, you have the right to refuse consent to the search.  If you allow an officer to enter your home, this could be viewed as consent to search your home.  An officer may “pat” you down if they suspect you have a weapon, but you do not have to consent to the search.
  4. Right to See a Search Warrant: In order to search a home, an officer must have a warrant signed by a Judge.  You have a right to see the search warrant, which is a paper that specifies the address and areas and items at that address that can be searched.  You can refuse to open the door, and ask for the warrant to be passed under the door or through the window.  If the officers search places in your home that are not listed on the warrant, make a note of where and remember you have a right not to consent to the search and to tell the officer(s).
  5. Right to A Phone Call: When you are arrested, you have the right to make a phone call.

Additional steps that you can take to be prepared for a raid:

  1. Make a plan.  If you are a parent you may want to obtain written authorization for another adult to care for your child(ren) in the event you are detained.
  2. Write it Down.  If you are stopped, searched, and/or arrested, find out who the officers are and their identifying information.  Ask for the names and badge numbers of the officers involved and write it down.  Badge numbers are also visible on an officer’s uniform.  If others are present during your interaction with the officer(s), write down the witness’ names.  If the officer goes beyond the search warrant in your home, write down where the officer searched that was not listed on the warrant.
  3. Know your “A” number.  If you have an “Alien Registration Number” or “A number,” make sure you know it and that your family members know it.  You may want to write it down and put it somewhere at home for your family to consult it if it becomes necessary.  The “A” number could become necessary to locate you if you are detained by immigration.
  4. Keep Important Information With You.  You may want to memorize the phone numbers of a reliable immigration attorney, your Union representative, and a family member in case you need to call.
  5. Talk to Your Co-Workers and/or Union Representative.  In the event of a raid in your workplace, you want to be prepared ahead of time.  You and your co-workers should speak with your Union representative about how to collectively respond to a raid.  You may want to collectively pressure management not to give Immigration authorities permission to enter the workplace, and/or that management will tell the Union Representative immediately when Immigration has given notice that the workplace will be visited by Immigration Officers.  You and co-workers may also agree not to panic and run if a raid happens.

Until and as the new administration enters in January, WRR will continue to provide updates and useful tools for Union members, their families and labor advocates.

By Tiffany Crain Altamirano | December 8, 2016

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