While no one wants to contemplate the idea, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) does make mistakes. After a certain period of time, these stop being mistakes, and become agency policy. Such has become the case—or very near the case—with ICE arrests of U.S. citizens.
While obviously, rescinding such a policy is the option most likely to restore agency credibility, in the meantime, it is imperative for both immigrants and U.S. citizens to be aware that this may conceivably be an option. It should never happen, but when it does, too often the arrestee may be caught off guard.
Recent Issues Place Deportation Detention in Focus
In late September 2017, the issue became a hot topic when U.S. citizen Isidro Andrade-Tafolla was accosted outside a courtroom in Portland, Oregon, by two people claiming to be ICE agents. They demanded his identification and accused him of being undocumented. However, his wife replied and showed her husband’s papers. The alleged ICE agents then left without any explanation to the couple.
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who represents the district in which the courthouse stands, asked for ICE’s Acting Director to initiate an internal investigation. However, as of this writing, no direct response has been received. ICE issued a statement calling the incident a case of ‘mistaken identity,’ though no comment was made on the two alleged agents’ specific conduct.
In response to this incident and several others, including one case in March where ICE agents in Kentucky arrested a naturalized U.S. citizen and held him for three weeks without granting him access to a judge or an attorney, it is not only undocumented immigrants who have begun to take steps to prove their status. With an energized, emboldened ICE overstepping what have traditionally been unspoken rules of conduct such as not arresting people in zones such as schools, churches, and courthouses, anyone who fits an ICE agent’s perceived notions of an undocumented immigrant may be at risk.
If You Are Detained
If you are a U.S. citizen, and you are detained by ICE, the important thing to do is to assert your citizenship as loudly and as often as possible. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the search and/or seizure of a U.S. citizen not charged with a crime, but undocumented immigrants have few constitutional rights of this nature. Thus, ICE has no impetus to allow you to consult an attorney or to see an immigration judge if their agents believe you to be undocumented. You are essentially at the mercy of chance—an ICE agent with a sense of ethics will grant you a phone call or contact your attorney; an ICE agent without one will ignore your rights.
Another important directive, if possible, is to not consent to any searches or any kind of transport elsewhere. If you are forcibly removed from public premises, it will stick in the minds of witnesses. Do not lose your temper, but refuse any requests to come to the station or be searched without an attorney present. It is generally a good idea to have a plan with your attorney for a time when this eventuality may come to pass; attorneys are generally held to have an absolute right to see their clients. Yet while they may not always succeed, the right may always be asserted.
Call an Immigration Attorney
While catastrophizing is never a good idea, it is important to understand the scope of the administration’s detention and deportation initiatives. People not usually targeted for processing are being targeted. Ensuring you are prepared may make the difference between being mistreated and being left alone, and you can prepare by contacting a knowledgeable Chicago immigration lawyer at Mevorah Law Offices LLC. We will work hard for you, and do our best to keep pressing the issue until the best situation possible is obtained. Call the office today for a free consultation.
Whether you are going through a divorce, injured in an accident, need to file a workers' compensation claim, charged with a crime, immigrating to the United States, or need to file for bankruptcy, Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help. Our trial lawyers have over 35 years of experience helping clients throughout Northern Illinois from five offices in Lombard, Bloomindale, Joliet, St. Charles, and Chicago.
Steven Mevorah has assembled experienced attorneys under one roof so that his clients need not search for a new attorney each time they need help. Mr. Mevorah has also established a wide network of additional attorneys so that his clients merely need to stop by Mevorah Law Offices LLC to find the attorney they need.
Our practice is focused on meeting your needs with flexible hours and locations to serve you: