By far the most difficult part of my practice is receiving the first call from a wife or a husband telling me that his or her husband or wife has been arrested by immigration. There have been many reports about new raids that are being conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), and many of my clients are calling and asking questions out of fear.
I would like to say to all those who may be afraid of these things, do not be afraid! Approach your difficult situation with courage. There are usually many, many options for preparing for such events, and there are many, many options for fixing these situations if someone is arrested. Each of these arrests is terrible and stressful, of course, but I would like to try to encourage you all to focus on the fact that these arrests can often be fixed, and even if they can’t, there is still hope for the future!
First of all, some advice for what to do if Immigration comes to your home or the home of someone you know: DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR WITHOUT SEEING A WARRANT, or AN ORDER FOR ARREST! Teach children that they do not have to open the door unless the person on the other side of the door shows a piece of paper with an order on it. That piece of paper should say the name of the person that Immigration is looking for, with the address. If they have that piece of paper, then the arrest is legal, and Immigration legally may come into the home to look for the person, with or without permission. Many, many times Immigration will not have these orders.
If they say that they have such an order, ask them to show it to you through the window or to slip it under the door. Also, DO NOT open the door… I have known many clients who have opened the door, and Immigration then forces its way in to the house, and will later say that they were given permission. If possible, it is better to speak to them through the window. They will demand that the door be opened. They will threaten to arrest everyone in the house. You should not listen to these threats. You have the right to keep your doors closed until Immigration shows an order.
Second, families that are concerned about Immigration should prepare a plan, just in case. If someone is arrested, there should be a plan for children or the elderly. Who will take care of them? Where will they go if something happens? Who will they call? These are all questions that should be discussed beforehand, and every family should have a plan.
Third, anyone concerned about Immigration should memorize the phone number of two trusted people that could help in the event of an emergency. These two trusted people should know where important documents are, and they should know who to call in the event of a sudden arrest.
Finally, anyone afraid of Immigration should know that he or she HAS THE RIGHT TO FIGHT HIS OR HER CASE! An experienced immigration attorney can help you. I always tell my clients, there are two important questions that need to be answered by a lawyer after Immigration arrests someone. First, whether or not the person qualifies for a bond, which is an amount of money that can be paid to the Court so that the person can be released. Second, does the person have any defense in Immigration Court?
Everyone arrested by Immigration (or most people, unless they have been deported before) has the right to fight a case in Immigration Court. What do I mean by a defense? I mean to say that many, many times an individual can apply for legal status, or a work permit, in Immigration Court. Those cases are often hard to win, but those of us who do this for a living have won many cases! That is our job!
Thanks for reading!