On August 29, 2018, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided a trailer manufacturing company just north of Dallas, TX, detaining approximately 160 people, all of whom ICE characterizes as undocumented workers. The company was raided after tips came to ICE that undocumented people had been hired and that the company would simply “pay the fine and go on” if adverse consequences came their way. This does not, however, take into account the pain experienced by those caught in the raid. If you or a loved one has been detained by ICE after a workplace raid, rightly or wrongly, you do have rights, and they must be respected even while in detention.
While the Trump administration may argue that workplace raids cut down on the number of undocumented workers in the United States, many people do not see the psychological cost that these raids exact. Studies have shown that psychological stress can be transmitted from parent to child, with heightened rates of depression and anxiety documented as those children age. Between the psychological and practical costs, it can be easy to feel as if there is no hope if you or a loved one has been detained in a workplace raid.
The current presidential administration has doubled the number of workplace raids, citing them as a tool to combat undocumented immigration, though the proverbial jury is out on the efficacy of such tactics. The Obama administration preferred to pursue employers of undocumented immigrants, filing lawsuits and auditing paperwork (the number of audits rose noticeably under Obama). They referred to this policy as a choice to place the onus in complying with immigration law on employers rather than the average person - in other words, punishing employers for hiring rather than punishing undocumented people for trying to find work.
If you are detained after a workplace raid, there are certain things to keep in mind, most notably that you still have rights which must be respected. You have the right to remain silent, and you cannot be forced to sign anything. In some cases, ICE personnel may try to make a detainee sign paperwork, such as an I-407 form, which voluntarily relinquishes a green card. Immigration personnel have become notorious for pushing detained people into signing these types of papers, especially during the rollout of the “travel ban” in early 2017.
While in detention, you also have the right to an attorney (though one will not be provided for you, you do have the right to see your attorney once you have engaged with them - that is, you cannot be kept from them), and you have the right to such basic services as medical treatment. You also have the right not to be discriminated against, especially on the basis of a category that cannot be changed, which is also called an immutable characteristic. The majority of those detained in workplace raids are held until deportation unless they post bond, as appears to be happening with the Texas detainees.
Deportation is a consequence that undocumented people risk when they cross the border - but if it must happen, it needs to happen during a process where all rights are respected and all people are treated with dignity. There is a growing body of evidence that shows that workplace raids are anything but dignified. If you have been detained and need help, the dedicated Chicago deportation defense lawyers at Mevorah Law Offices LLC may be able to help you. Call us today at 630-932-9100 to schedule a free consultation.
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