Checklist for Noncitizen Protestors and Their Attorneys

June 30, 2020 § Leave a comment

As protests and mass demonstrations emerge throughout the world in response to injustice and racist acts against Black people in the United States, many Noncitizens in America find themselves in a dilemma: join the protests and jeopardize legal status, or stay silent and safeguard legal status and oneself from deportation. Of course, Noncitizens living in the U.S. have every right to speak out against injustice. However, it is important to recognize that Noncitizens face additional risks when participating in protests and demonstrations. The purpose of this checklist is to provide immigration attorneys and their Noncitizen client’s a list of issues to address should said-client wish to partake in protest.

  1. Conduct Research in Your Jurisdiction 
    1. Inquire into potential issues regarding identification laws. Find out whether the particular jurisdiction has stop-and-identify laws or if the client is required to carry identification. It is recommended that clients carry some form of local, state, or student ID while avoiding documents that reveal immigration status. 
    2. Look into the jurisdiction’s processing of a criminal case. Understanding how a typical criminal case is processed in the jurisdiction is important for the client and attorney to prepare should the client come into contact with law enforcement. 
    3. Determine what law enforcement agencies may be present and how they interact with protestors. Some of these agencies include ICE, FBI, CBP, and U.S. Marshals. ICE and CBP have been deployed in many places to assist law enforcement in the current Black Lives Matter protests.
    4. Determine the extent of communication and collaboration between state and local police and ICE. Determine whether the police department has agreements with ICE, or if it generally prohibits assistance to ICE.
    5. Research the immigrant consequences of local offenses. Common offenses may trigger additional immigration consequences such as bars from relief, mandatory detention or deportation, delays in relief, or may prevent establishing the good moral character requirement.
    6. Identify support networks in the jurisdiction for Noncitizen protestors. These include bail funds and immediate legal support hotlines.
  2. Advise Your Client
    1. Be aware of the client’s circumstances. A lawful permanent resident has a different risk than someone who has no authorized status or is in removal proceedings.
    2. Provide information to the client regarding their rights. Everyone, including Noncitizens, has a right to remain silent. Noncitizens should refrain from disclosing their immigration status, but should not falsely claim U.S. citizenship or provide false information.
    3. Be cautious with digital privacy. Cell phones may be confiscated by police and can be used for incriminating evidence. If bringing a cell phone, the client should turn off fingerprint or Face-ID features, add a secure password, and turn off location tracking.
    4. Noncitizen protestors should have contact information with them. This includes their attorney, emergency contacts, and any support networks.

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