January 11, 2017

Concerned about being detained by officials? It helps to prepare.

Given the comments made about immigration and undocumented workers in the months leading to the presidential election, it isn’t surprising that individuals who have not completed the immigration process would feel fearful of work raids and deportations. While only time will tell if these searches will escalate in the next few months, there are things that you can do now if you are concerned about an unannounced visit by a representative from immigration or law enforcement.

You may not have control over what happens in the future, but you can control how you prepare for these events. Steps that you take now could make the difference in the outcome of a raid for you and your family.

1. Know your rights.

Those who prepare for a raid or questioning by immigration officials may limit the damage of this event. Although you may not be a permanent American citizen, you have the rights that are available to naturalized citizens. Becoming aware of these rights can help you protect yourself should you be brought in for questioning.

If you are brought before a government official, you have the right to remain silent. You do not need to reveal information that may be used to build a case against you. You also have the right to ask for a lawyer to advise you. This lawyer can serve as a representative to help you interact with officials.

2. Locate the proper paperwork.

Review the documentation that you have in your wallet or purse. While you may not want to carry around information that identifies your native country, you should avoid keeping false paperwork on your person. Forged paperwork will provide authorities with the excuse to detain you and probe into your life further. Instead, you should locate any legitimate records that you have. A government visa, state driver’s licenses or state-issued identification may be legally obtained and will contain limited personal information.

3. Prepare to be questioned.

It is frightening to think that your work could be raided on any given day, but if that is a fear you have, you should be active in preparing for this event to occur. Lining up support and making plans for other family members are all proactive activities that may help you feel that you have control over what happens in the future. Identify an immigration attorney and keep his card with you so that you have a legal ally should you need one. If you have children, make sure they have a safe place to stay if you are unable to return home for some time.

Immigration officials use fear and the element of surprise to build their case against those they suspect to be undocumented. As unpleasant as it is to consider being questioned, planning for this occasion may be the best way to defend yourself should this circumstance arise.

Individuals concerned about raids at work or at home are advised to seek the counsel of knowledgeable attorney for other preventative measures they can take.