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Interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Know Your Rights: Information and Tips About Dealing with ICE Agents

Many readers have recently asked us about what to do if ICE (United States Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement) visits New Brunswick.

Though we do not have any information on if or when this will happen, we do want to try our best to answer reader questions about what to do regarding the situation if you come in contact with ICE.

New Brunswick Today supports all residents in our city and appreciates all contributions residents make to this town, regardless of their immigration status. We want every resident to be safe, healthy, and happy.

What is ICE?

The United States Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement defines itself as the department that “enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety.” On their website, they state that their three main objectives are “immigration enforcement, investigating illegal movement of people and goods, [and] preventing terrorism.”

What’s happening right now?

Recently, ICE has been in the news due to the raids they have organized to find and deport undocumented immigrants. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center describes these raids as ones that commonly rely on “tactics of intimidation, coercion, threats, and sometimes even force.”

Due to the rapid pace of rumors and reports that are going around the community, it is difficult to know what exactly is happening. Some government officials are saying that the reports of raids are over exaggerated. It is known that New Brunswick resident and New Brunswick High School graduate German Nieto was taken into custody by agents on January 5th.

Many people, including NBToday readers, are expressing fear over what they have heard about the recent ICE raids. One NBToday reader asked for a report regarding the ICE raids via our Facebook messaging app. “It has many people living in fear to even go out to shop for food or do laundry at the laundry mats,” the reader said.

Gillian M. Christensen, press secretary for ICE, was quoted in a December 24th New York Times article saying, “our border is not open to illegal immigration, and if individuals come here illegally, do not qualify for asylum or other relief, and have final orders of removal, they will be sent back consistent with our laws and values.”

What are my rights?

According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the American Friends Service Committee, and the National Immigration Law Center, your rights are as follows:

• You have the right to remain silent- you don’t need to tell anyone where you were born, or how you got to the United States, or any other personal information. However, do not provide any falsified documents or documents from your country of origin.

• You have the right to ask for a warrant- without a warrant, ICE cannot enter your house. The warrant has to have the name and address of the person they are looking for clearly written on the paper.

• You have the right to be represented by a lawyer- if ICE comes to your house, place of business, or approaches you in any way, you can decline to speak to ICE until a lawyer is present. However, public counsel will not be provided for you which means you will need to get your own lawyer.

• You have the right to call your consulate- if you are arrested, you can call your consulate or embassy and ask for advice or information. They may recommend a lawyer, notify your family, or other courses of action to help you.

What are some recommended courses of action?

 To prepare for a raid, or for any interaction with ICE, the above-mentioned organizations advise the following courses of action:

• Make a plan for children and dependents- in case of arrest or deportation, make a plan for any children or elderly dependent family members to go with a trusted family friend.

• Find an immigration attorney and carry a paper with their name and contact information on it in case you get detained.

• Organize all important papers in an easy to locate and secure location within your home. These papers should include any birth certificates, documented interactions with lawyers, marriage certificates, and other documents.

What is the community doing about this issue?

So far, there has been no known response from the local government about any possible visits from ICE. However, the community is organizing itself to take ation.

Unity Square and New Labor will be holding a Know your Rights workshop on Thursday, January 21 at 6:30 PM. The workshop will be held in their building at 81 Remsen Avenue.

ICE Free NJ is a community group self-described as a “state effort to end ICE presence in our communities. We are comprised of families, friends, and community members.” They will be holding a rally this Saturday, January 30, at noon at the corner of George and Livingston Avenue.

This rally is said to be a chance to protest both the specific actions ICE took against German Nieto and also the general actions that ICE is taking against the community. More information can be found at this Facebook event.