As U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to target immigrants, this week Make the Road New York relaunched its Deportation Defense Manual to inform immigrants of their rights when dealing with ICE agents.
Available in both English and Spanish, and in collaboration with the Immigrant Defense Project, the manual provides information, resources, and a plan of action to protect targeted communities in their potential interactions with ICE officers at home, the workplace, or while driving.
Make the Road New York is an immigrant-led organization that works to build the power of immigrants and working-class communities to achieve dignity and justice.
The goal is to educate individuals impacted by the escalation of immigration enforcement activity, and those interested in supporting them, on how to avoid arrests and fight deportation cases, how to respond to raids, and how to acquire deportation defense.
Luba Cortés, the immigrant defense coordinator at Make the Road New York, said in a press release that almost all ICE arrests are illegal and abusive and families are unnecessarily torn apart. She hopes this re-edition of the guide serves to protect undocumented people who call New York their home.
“Our Deportation Defense Manual is a comprehensive tool for vulnerable community members, to assert their rights and stand in their power when it comes to enforcement,” Cortés said.
The main guidelines presented in the manual in case ICE comes to your home are:
- Do not open the door.
- Do not sign anything without an immigration attorney reviewing it first.
- Remain calm and silent and sk for an interpreter if you do not understand the language.
- Record and report by taking photos and writing down other relevant information.
According to the manual, people should ask ICE officers to pass all documentation under the door. If it is confirmed that the warrant they present is signed by an ICE officer and not a judge, they cannot enter the home.
If ICE comes to the workplace, the manual warns that agents cannot enter the non-public spaces unless they have either the voluntary consent of the employer or a valid warrant. If ICE enters without either one, their entry can be challenged later in court.
If ICE actually enters the workplace, the manual advises to stay calm, do not run, and do not resist arrest, among other tips. The person should express out loud that they do not consent to a search and should not give any documentation voluntarily.
Edward Alonso Castillo, a member of Make the Road New York, shared his experience of being arrested in 2021 by ICE on his way to work, despite not fitting ICE’s detention guidelines at the time. He describes the manual as an incredible tool to help prevent vulnerable individuals from being detained.
“I suffered severely in detention and was hospitalized twice during my time in Orange County Jail. If I had known my rights, I would have felt more prepared to protect myself and my family from our encounter with ICE,” Castillo said.
If the encounter with ICE —commonly known in Spanish-speaking communities as “la migra“— occurs on the road while driving, some of the recommendations are to stop the vehicle and present only valid license registration and proof of insurance upon an officer’s request. Also, the guide advises not to answer questions on immigration status based on the right to remain silent. People in these circumstances can say, “I want to exercise my right to remain silent” and “I want to speak with a lawyer.”
Yimy López, member of Make the Road New York, said he was detained by ICE in 2019 and remained so for months, until Make the Road New York fought his case and secured his release.
“My experiences in detention were terrible, and I felt scared for my safety every day. I did not receive proper medical attention and often felt powerless to file complaints, since I knew they were often ignored,” he said.
López highlighted the importance of sharing his experience and having these types of manuals to let immigrants know their rights so they can avoid similar situations.
“Just recently I witnessed an ICE arrest, and I was able to step in and advocate for peers,” López recalled. “It is crucial that immigrants know their rights, so that they are not afraid to stand up to ICE.”
The manual also includes information about how uninsured undocumented people can access health care, how to visit and send money to a person arrested by ICE, and how to prepare while waiting for court.
Immediately after an interaction with ICE, the manual recommends calling the Immigrant Defense Project’s hotline at 212-725-6422 to report the raid and find out if the person(s) will be eligible for an attorney.
Juan de Dios Sánchez Jurado is a summer correspondent for Futuro Media. A writer, lawyer, and journalist from Colombia, he is currently studying at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. Twitter: @diosexmaquina