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New Policy Targets Undocumented Immigrants In Border States

President Trump has gone forward with a new initiative that will make life harder for millions of immigrants and their families. In what The New York Times describes as a "major shift" in policy, the administration has made millions of individuals newly vulnerable to arrest and deportation.

Until last week, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- the government entity charged with carrying out deportations -- prioritized the removal of undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes. Under the new policy, however, ICE agents are under orders to remove "anyone convicted of any criminal offense." The policy also broadens the program for expedited removals. What this means is that many individuals are now subject to immediate deportation with minimal due process.

What to do during confrontations with ICE agents

The initiative faces a great deal of resistance. Several states are fighting back against the administration. Likewise, a number of cities have said they will not to let their police departments cooperate with the ICE. In Texas and New Mexico, however, undocumented immigrants may find themselves targeted aggressively.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has published a set of tips for undocumented immigrants, to help them protect themselves during interactions with ICE. If, for example, an ICE agent shows up at one's door, it is important - and legal - to:

  • Keep the door closed
  • Refuse entry to an agent unless s/he shows a judicial search or arrest warrant
  • Ask for an interpreter, if one is needed
  • Make sure that any warrant is signed by a judge (a warrant signed by an ICE officer is not valid)
  • Do not lie or present any false documents
  • Do not sign anything unless you consult with a lawyer first

In the event that an ICE agent forces his or her way into the home, the individual should not resist. The ACLU notes that it is best simply to state, "I do not consent to your entry or to your search of these premises. I am exercising my right to remain silent. I wish to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible." 

Immigration laws will be "enforced to the maximum extent"

The administration has announced plans to hire 10,000 new ICE agents. Officials have already noted that they intend to "aggressively follow Mr. Trump's promise that immigration laws be enforced to the maximum extent."

But the law is still the law. It can protect as well as punish. With proper legal representation, and the right community resources, undocumented immigrants and workers may yet be able to remain.

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