October 2020 | Español
Immigration enforcement actions continue in communities across the United States, and the Trump administration has increased the threat to immigrant communities by expanding “expedited removal.” Under the expansion of this program, an immigration officer may quickly deport individuals if they entered the U.S. without immigration documents and have been in the U.S. for less than two years. (Previously, immigration officers only applied expedited removal to individuals arrested within 100 miles of an international border and within 14 days.) With a limited exception, people subject to expedited removal can be deported quickly without ever getting a chance to appear before an immigration judge.
The following information can help you protect yourself and your family, and defend your rights.
1. Create a safety plan.
- Identify your emergency contact and memorize their phone number
- Provide your child’s school or day care with the emergency contact to pick up your child
- Provide authorization for your emergency contact to make medical and legal decisions for your child
- Keep your passport, identity information, proof of physical presence in the U.S. and financial information in a safe location. Make sure your emergency contact can access them.
- Read more about guardianship considerations for immigrants in Illinois (PDF). Read more about guardianship considerations for immigrants in Indiana (PDF).
2. Defend your rights.
All persons in the United States have constitutional protections, including the right to to remain silent when questioned or arrested by immigration officers. However, with the expansion of expedited removal, there are situations where staying silent may result in detention and removal from the United States without an opportunity to speak to a lawyer or an immigration judge. Review the following information and prepare to protect yourself from expedited removal:
- If you are a U.S. citizen or have lawful immigration status: Show your passport, permanent resident card, work permit, or other documentation of your status.
- If you are undocumented and have been in the United States for more than 2 years: Tell officers you are not subject to expedited removal and have been in the United States for more than 2 years. Keep proof of your continuous presence in a safe place. This can include U.S. income tax returns, utility bills, leases, school records, medical records, or other documents that show you have been living in the United States.
- If you are undocumented and have been in the United States for less than 2 years:
- If you entered the United States lawfully: Tell officers you entered lawfully and that they cannot put you in expedited removal.
- If you have a fear of returning to your country of origin: Tell the officer you fear return and ask to make a phone call to a family member or attorney. (People who express fear of return have a right to a “credible fear interview” before an asylum officer to assess whether they can apply for asylum before an immigration judge. If the asylum officer finds that you do not have a credible fear, request that an immigration judge review that decision.)
- If you do not fear returning and entered the U.S. without authorization: Remain silent, except to ask to make a phone call to a family member or attorney.
3. Be prepared for different scenarios.
- If you are pulled over in a traffic stop: Ask if the officer is from the police department or immigration. Immigration officers often identify themselves as “police,” but they are not police. Ask if they are from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If they are immigration officers, follow the guidelines above about what information to provide.
- If an officer knocks on your door: Do not open the door. Teach your children not to open the door. Officers must have a warrant signed by a judge to enter your home. ICE “warrants” are not signed by judges; they are ICE forms signed by ICE officers and they do not grant authority to enter a home without consent of the occupant(s).
- If you are outdoors and think you see immigration officers nearby:
- Move to a safe indoor space.
- If you are a U.S. citizen and feel safe to do so, record the activity with your phone or write down any relevant information about what you witness—ALWAYS being careful to not interfere or otherwise obstruct the operation.
- DO NOT:
- Post unverified information on social media.
- Interfere with the investigation or otherwise put yourself in harm’s way.
If you need support:
- 24-Hour Emergency Support: Call the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Family Support Hotline at 1-855-HELP-MY-FAMILY (1-855-435-7693). For additional resources, visit: https://www.icirr.org/community-resources
- Immigration legal representation: Chicago residents are eligible for free legal services from the National Immigrant Justice Center (NJIC) through the City of Chicago Legal Protection Fund. Immigrants outside Chicago also can obtain low-cost legal consultations and representation from NIJC. Call (312) 660-1370 or email email@example.com to make an appointment. If you live outside of Chicago, you can find the national directory of free and low-cost qualified legal service providers at immigrationadvocates.org/nonprofit/legaldirectory.