Legal rights, advice if you are approached by immigration officers

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The specter of raids by immigration and customs officials is stoking fears in immigrant communities in Minnesota and across the country.

ICE – a federal agency of 20,000 people so sprawling that it has its own airline – is responsible for enforcing immigration laws within the United States. The border patrol covers lands within 100 miles of international borders.

President Trump has pushed ICE to arrest thousands of migrant families in recent raids, raising concerns among undocumented people of agents targeting them in raids. Some people even went into hiding.

Minnesota has both Border Patrol and ICE officers, including an ICE field office in St. Paul. The agency was formed in 2003 when post-9/11 politics put more emphasis on national security, said Debbie Sontag, a longtime immigration reporter.

However, Trump was not the first president to preside over large ICE arrests, Sontag told MPR News. The Obama administration has also done “its fair share” of arrests and deportations, she said.

In Obama’s last years in power, Sontag said, “The focus was on immigrants with serious criminal records. Those who have a very bad immigration history, that is, they have been arrested and deported many, many times.

But Trump’s frequent anti-immigrant rhetoric and nationwide immigration roundups, the most recent of which have failed, are a departure from past policy.

“After Trump took office, the ICE was emboldened and empowered,” Sontag said. “Everyone was suddenly a fair game.”

Below is a guide to legal rights when dealing with ICE representatives and expert advice on how to handle situations. Information from the American Civil Liberties Union and American Association of Immigration Lawyers. The ACLU and AILA links contain more information, as well as guides to knowing your rights in languages ​​other than English.

Your rights with ICE

  • You don’t need to open the door for agents or let them enter your home without a warrant.

  • You have the right to remain silent. If you want to use this right, notify the agent. You also don’t have to answer questions about your status or where you’re from.

  • You have the right to speak to a lawyer if officers take you into custody, even if you do not have one. Government appointed lawyers are available if you need them.

  • You don’t need to sign anything without first consulting a lawyer.

  • Arrest warrants give officers the legal right to enter your home, but eviction / eviction warrants – known as Form I-205 – do not give them this right.

Expert advice

  • If an agent comes to the door and says they have a warrant, slide it under a door and verify that all of the information is correct before opening the door.

  • Ask an agent for a list of free legal aid if you don’t have a lawyer and would like one.

  • If you are approached or stopped by an officer, stay calm and make sure your hands are where the officer can see them.

  • Do not provide false information or documents.

  • If you are 18 or older, keep your documents with you.

  • If agents arrive at your home, ask if they are immigration officers and what they do with you. Request the identification of any agent; have them display it through a door peephole or window.

  • Defenders advise you not to resist or run away from an officer, even if you think he is violating your rights.

  • Prepare a contingency plan in advance in case you or a family member is taken into custody – memorize crucial phone numbers and have necessary medications handy.

  • Do not discuss your legal status with anyone other than your lawyer.

  • Track full details of any arrest – from officer badge numbers to their agency, as well as information for witnesses. Take photos if you are injured during an arrest.

  • If you believe that an agent has violated your rights, you can file a complaint with the agency’s internal affairs office.

  • Print a red card to help you assert your rights with an agent.

Use the audio player above to hear MPR News host Stephanie Curtis’ interview with Sontag on the audio player above.

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