On behalf of Southworth and Stamman, LLC posted in Immigration Law on Friday, October 28, 2016.
Unfortunately, too many immigrants live in fear of being arrested and deported at a moment's notice. Some are simply stopped and questioned on the street before being taken into custody, while others may be swept up in a raid at their homes or places of work. Living with this constant fear and uncertainty can be unnerving, to say the least, especially when language barriers prevent immigrants from asserting their rights. Considering this, all immigrants in Wisconsin and elsewhere should have a safety plan in place so that they will know what to do if, and when, they are ever detained by authorities.
1. Know the number of an immigration attorney: If you are arrested or detained, you have the right to speak with an attorney. Make sure you have the name and number of a lawyer experienced in deportation defense either memorized or written down, and carry the number with you. It's also a good idea to write down the lawyer's contact information and post it at your home so your family members can access the information and call the attorney on your behalf, if necessary.
2. Develop a plan with co-workers: If you work with other immigrants, you and your co-workers should set up and agree to a plan in case there is ever a raid at your workplace. One of the most important suggestions is to remain calm and not run from the authorities. Running will only add to your troubles and will send the message that you have something to hide. Additionally, all immigrants, regardless of status, should agree that they will not talk to the authorities and will remain silent throughout the raid. Everyone involved should ask to speak with an attorney before answering any questions from authorities.
3. Develop a plan for your family: Make sure your family members know what to do if you are ever arrested. They should know or be able to quickly find your immigration number (your A number) and date of birth as well as your full name. Additionally, they should be able to quickly find the contact information of your immigration attorney and the local immigration office. It is important to have that information posted at home. Finally, you need to have a plan regarding the care and well-being of your minor children and any other family members who made need living assistance. Share this plan with friends and others you can trust who can step in and help should you be detained.
4. Carry the right documents with you: This is particularly important for those who do not speak English. As it is your right to speak with an attorney, you need to have a card that details your immigration lawyer's information. Also, you can have a card printed in English that says that you will remain silent until you have talked with your attorney. The authorities should allow you to call an attorney to represent you.
5. Have copies of your immigration documents: Be sure you have copies of all of your important immigration documents stored in a secure location. Along with copies of the documents you filed with the immigration office, other documents you need to have on hand include your birth certificate, passport and marriage certificate, if applicable. Make sure your family members know how to access the documents in case they are ever needed.
While being detained by authorities can be scary, as an immigrant, you owe it to yourself and your family to have a safety plan in place. No matter your immigration status, you do have rights under the U.S. Constitution. Any immigrant in Wisconsin who has questions about his or her rights should contact an immigration lawyer for answers and assistance.