U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the body tasked with identifying vulnerabilities (of multiple types) at U.S. borders. As part of this mission, its subsidiary agency of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) is responsible for carrying out raids on homes and businesses believed to be housing undocumented immigrants.
While these raids have a fearsome reputation and can indeed be traumatic, some of the information propagated is demonstrably untrue. If you are in a position where you experience a raid, it will serve you well to understand what the raid is intended to achieve, and what your rights may be.
Before a Raid
As one might expect, ERO cannot simply barge into a business without justification. Evidence must be collected which indicates that a business is employing undocumented immigrants or at least has a reasonable suspicion that some of its workers may be undocumented. For example, ICE routinely subpoenas all “no-match” letters from the Social Security Administration for a specific business. A “no-match” letter signifies that the Social Security number an employee has given an employer does not match the relevant record, which in turn implies that it may be being used by an undocumented immigrant. This evidence is used by ERO to apply for a search warrant from a judge or magistrate.
In the warrant application, ERO must include at least an approximate list of items it hopes to find and seize, such as employment records, books showing profit and loss, and copies of immigration records. All must be above board—if there is any irregularity in the warrant application or the document itself, it may be challenged by the company after the fact, which would taint any evidence gained or any arrests made by ERO as illegal.
During and After a Raid
The most important thing to keep in mind is that in most raids, anyone who cannot prove their valid immigration status will likely be detained. If you admit that you are not a citizen of the United States, the burden then shifts to you to prove that you are in the country legally. If you are detained, your employer may decide to help you be released, or not; either is legal. Either way, your employer will be provided with a “Do Not Rehire” list by ERO, which means that you may wind up out of a job, rightly or wrongly.
While you are in detention, you still have rights, including the right to telephone an attorney and the right to remain silent unless your attorney is present. Any attempt to make you abrogate these rights is impermissible, and may be grounds for a lawsuit. This is especially true of any document that ERO personnel may attempt to have you sign—nothing of this kind may occur without your attorney present. It is important, however, that if you decide to talk, you must not lie about anything. Doing so may render you deportable, or in the future, it may be used to show that you do not possess the “good moral character” necessary to adjust to a more legal status.
Seek Experienced Counsel Immediately
If you have reason to believe that your workplace may be raided, or you are currently dealing with the aftermath of a raid, having a knowledgeable attorney on your side is critical. The skilled DuPage County immigration lawyers at Mevorah Law Offices LLC understand the confusion that comes with the sudden explosion of a raid into your daily life, and we can help answer any questions you may have about the process. Contact our offices today at 630-932-9100 to set up a free initial consultation.
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