Published On: Wed, Apr 12th, 2017

Immigration Laws and Your Job: Know Your Rights Before an ICE Raid at Work

The current climate in the US is one with much uncertainty hanging in the air. From the infamous travel ban to the threat to immigrants at home, immigrants without a green card or citizenship will need to prepare for the worst. Between ICE raids and basic rights, here’s what you need to know about current immigration laws, and what you can expect if law enforcement shows up at your place of work.

How Immigration Laws Will Affect Undocumented Workers

While there has been an uptick in immigration arrests since Donald Trump took office in January, many of those arrests were conducted with an official warrant. Current immigration laws allow for the deportation of lawful permanent citizens with a criminal record and undocumented immigrants. Those without legal status are generally thought of as the priority targets, but that doesn’t mean you are safe.

New TIME Magazine covers features Illegal Immigration Photo/TIME

Preparing for an ICE Raid

Technically, immigration officers do not have the right to enter your workplace unless they’ve obtained express permission from your employer. However, if an officer does get permission to enter the premises, they are free to ask any question they see fit in regards to your immigration status. If ICE does not have permission from the employer, they may only enter the premises if they obtain a search warrant.

Do know that if ICE officers have a warrant, that there are two different types. One allows officers to come and arrest you, while the other is permission granted by a judge to enter a residence or place of business in order to conduct a search.

Additionally, you’ll need to let officers complete their investigation uninterrupted. Trying to interfere with their work may expose you to criminal charges. Wait it out, and take action after they leave.

What are your rights?

  • You have the right to remain silent. While you are under no legal obligation to say anything, you may want to give them your name, so in the case of an arrest, your family or your lawyer will be able to track you down and provide assistance.

  • You have the right to speak with a lawyer – you are free to respond to any questions the officer may ask with “I’d like to speak to a lawyer.”

  • Again, your right to remain silent extends to any questions about your country or origin, whether or not you have papers and what your status is.

  • Do not lie, refusing to answer the question is your best bet. If you lie to an officer or give false documents, there may be legal recourse.

  • Do not carry papers from another country. If ICE searches you, these documents can be used against you in court.

  • iAmerica has a list of rights, as well as a downloadable pdf with more info. Click here for more.

  • Don’t sign anything. Signing any document may result in a “voluntary” deportation, in which you’ve agreed to leave the country. Do not sign any piece of paper without a lawyer present.

Can My Employer Help?

Yes. Most likely, your employer will know your immigration status before ICE comes knocking. If they don’t, do have a talk to make sure they understand what is at stake. Again, unless ICE has express permission from your employer or a warrant, they may not come inside under US law.

If you are an independent contractor or non-union worker, protections extend to what was just outlined above. But, if you are a member of a union, you may be able to take advantage of some additional protections. In many cases, the labor union may offer protection in the form of requiring the union be notified if ICE comes to the workplace, or the employer may not verify legal status, names or addresses of any immigrant workers.

What to Do After an ICE Raid

After the officers leave the premises. It’s a good idea to contact a trustworthy lawyer. Do some research in your area, and make some calls. Contact Hacking Law Practice as a good starting point. Additionally, Green card holders who have been arrested should discuss their options for renewal with an attorney as soon as possible to avoid any issues down the road.

In the end, the best defense is to be informed and prepared. Study those rights, and again, do not answer any questions without a lawyer present. Additionally, reach out to groups like the ACLU, the National Network of Immigrant and Refugee Rights or the Immigration Law Enforcement Project for additional information about how you can protect yourself at work.

Guest Author :

Kiera Hamilton is sharing her knowledge and thoughts with an online audience regarding immigration matters. Having worked as a case manager for several years she is able to offer some insights and tips on what people can do.

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