How Immigrants Can Prepare for the Trump Administration

Last week, we discussed what might happen early on in a Trump presidency.  It was not our goal to sound alarmist, but early indications are that Trump is not backing down on his awful immigration ideas.  His elevation of restrictionist Kris Kobach, the architect of so many terrible anti-immigrant laws and initiatives, demonstrates that Trump intends to keep his campaign promises on immigration.  Based upon our assessment of what is likely to come, here are some practical tips that you can follow to prepare for the Trump administration, which takes office on January 20, 2017.

  1. This one is good advice always: don’t drink and drive, don’t lose your temper with your spouse so that the police are called (if you are the victim of abuse, you absolutely should call the police), don’t drive without a license.  While this is always good advice, it is especially important now.
  2. Gather documents and store them in a single unmarked folder.  Documents like passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, court records, divorce certificates, vaccination records, diplomas, documentation for encounters with the police (including where you were the victim), employment records such as paystubs, tax returns, medical documentation.  Put them someplace where the entire family knows where they can be found.
  3. Attend meetings and forums to learn about what is going on and make connections in the community to stand together.
  4. Meet with an attorney.  Find out if there are any legal opportunities available to you.  Understand your legal position.  The filing of an application is a serious decision.  It could lead to removal or it could lead to residence.
  5. If you are encountered on the street by an immigration official, you do not need to produce any documents.    You are allowed to say that you do not wish to speak with them and may continue on your way.  If they show up at your home, you do not have to open the door, let them in, or answer their questions.  Before opening the door even a crack, you should demand to see a warrant signed by a judge, not by an immigration official.  If they do not have a warrant, you can tell them that you do not allow them into your home.  If they do have a warrant, you must let them do what the warrant authorizes them to do.  You do not have to answer their questions.  If they arrest you, do not resist.  And continue not talking.
  6. Have a plan in case you are arrested.  If you are arrested by ICE, you will need to move quickly to try to seek release from custody.  Here are some steps you can take:
  • Have the contact information for an attorney available and accessible to members of your family or your friends.
  • When in custody, do not sign any documents.  Do not answer any questions.  Tell them that you wish to speak to an attorney.
  • Your folder of documents- make sure that it is passed to your lawyer.
  • Have a plan to pay legal fees and money for release on bond.  You will need to pay a lawyer to seek release on bond.  If you are arrested, a lawyer can seek bond for you.  If a judge grants bond, it is possible that you will need to pay over $10,000 to get released from custody.  You will need to have this money accessible in case of arrest.

We will continue to update you on the latest happenings related to the consequences of this election and remain committed to standing by your side.

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