For years now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has declared war on undocumented immigrants, specifically non-white non-U.S. citizens, by jailing them, terrorizing and deporting them back to their countries of birth. A xenophobic agency with an insidious intent to rid the country of all things “foreign,” ICE was formed within the Department of Homeland Security during 2003 as a response to the 9/11 attacks.
Ever since Trump’s fear-mongering and hatred-fueled campaign, the assaults on immigrant ways of life have increased dramatically. After taking office, he effectively ended Obama-era policies that sidelined ICE and deportation efforts and increased ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) raids. These are the leading reasons why the total number of detained immigrants jumped to 360,000 in 2016.
Trump’s incessant demand that ICE crack down on “illegal” immigrants has led to ICE agents doubling down and doing anything they can to increase their capture rate. Often going against the 4th Amendment, ICE has been merciless, detaining a ten year old with cerebral palsy right after her surgery, deporting a 23 year old legal DACA recipient and even deporting a father who had lived in the U.S. for over 30 years.
It’s hard to believe that ICE and the border control aren’t actively being shut down, after openly locking up children away from their families in alarming conditions. If our U.S. immigration system is so obviously corrupt and out of control, why then is it still up and running?
Because it plays into the American protection narrative of ridding the country of crime and evil while “keeping people safe,” when really all that means is removing Muslims and Latinos and other immigrants of color from the country — or, as they are known to Trump, “criminals and rapists.”
ICE relies on white supremacy — exerting power over those who don’t control the system – to take advantage of people who don’t speak English natively or aren’t familiar with their rights and the American legal system. Using shameful tactics, weaponry and their great numbers (there are currently 20,000 ICE employees), it seems as though ICE is becoming a sickeningly unstoppable force.
With the climate of America today, learning how to evade ICE and shift the balance of jurisdiction could literally mean life or death for many immigrant families who face war and violence back home or an early death in detention centers. Luckily there are many ways in which outmaneuvering ICE will lead to survival.
The first step is learning the full extent of your rights.
For undocumented immigrants:
- On the border zone: The Border Patrol is allowed to question your citizenship within 100 miles of any part of the U.S. Border. This roughly approximated boundary includes a few entire states and the 10 largest cities in the U.S.
- You cannot be arrested without “probable cause” (which means FACTS that prove you have violated the law). You cannot be detained without “reasonable suspicion” (this means that an officer has to have facts about things you’ve done that suggest you have violated the law). You cannot be searched without “consent” (meaning if you say ‘no’ to them rooting through your belongings, they are by law unable to touch your possessions).
- Your race/ethnicity and/or your silence alone are NOT reasonable suspicion, nor are they probable cause.
- If ICE agents keep questioning you past a few brief questions about your status: Inquire if they plan on detaining you by asking “am I free to go?” If they have no reasonable suspicion or probable cause, they must let you go without arrest or detainment. If they say “no,” do not try and flee arrest/detainment.
Photo courtesy of ACLU.
- In your home/on your property: Don’t let ICE agents inside your home without a warrant signed by a judge. If they have a warrant, you can choose to be silent while they check the house.
- At immigration checkpoints: Here agents don’t need suspicion to check your vehicle visually or ask you questions. But they do need it to detain you.
- If you are arrested/detained: No matter what your immigration status is, you have the right to an immigration lawyer (albeit not a free one) and you should inform the officers that you will reserve the right to remain silent on questions about your immigration status until they arrive. Don’t ever lie and don’t sign anything.
- (Before the possibility of an arrest you should reach out to loved ones to make emergency plans for medication and childcare.)
- If you are not on government property or at a point of entry: It is 100% legal to videotape immigration officers and use the footage against them in a court of law or any other arena.
- If you or someone near you is getting detained: Make sure to get the agent’s name, number and identifying information so that you can sue or speak out against them.
- If there has been any misconduct or violation of rights by the Border Patrol or ICE: Reach out and contact the ACLU so that they can better ensure justice.
For white/American citizens:
- As a part of the safe majority it is your job to protect those under persecution. Not only do you, as a white citizen, have access to your basic rights (listed above), you also have the right to make a scene and protest.
- Don’t let ICE have discretion. Don’t let them come in without dispute and steal away unsuspecting immigrant families from their communities. Constantly badger agents verbally and make it difficult for them to do their jobs. Being white and documented shields you from any discipline ICE might dole out for being “rude” and “unruly.” While you can’t use violence or destroy property, you can make agents and passerby uncomfortable.
- Stand up, yell, tell everyone they have the right to remain silent. In many cases this has intimidated and deterred agents from further pestering/detaining immigrants.
- If you know Spanish and the people being interrogated are Hispanic and have trouble understanding English: Feel free to loudly remind them of their rights in a language they understand. Let them know you stand with them and that they don’t have to say anything or go anywhere.
Photo: Daily Kos