Nationwide raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to arrest thousands of undocumented immigrants have been scheduled to begin this Sunday, according to a report from The New York Times.
Brad Maze is an immigration attorney in Ann Arbor. He says these raids may include “collateral” deportations, meaning the authorities may detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene even if they were not targets of the raids.
“What I would encourage people to do is to set aside some of their personal documents: birth certificates, passports, tax returns, any kind of proof of ownership [like] homes or cars. Give them to someone they can trust so that if they do get detained or arrested by Immigration, there’s someone that can hand that over to an attorney to help these people fight for a bond or the right to stay in this country,” he says.
Brad Thomson is also an immigration attorney in Ann Arbor. He says those at risk of being detained should be well aware of their rights, and commends community activists for making undocumented immigrants aware of their rights.
“We recommend the immigrant record the names of the officers that they come in contact with. We also strongly recommend not to run away from the ICE officers. It’s also important not to sign any paperwork they don’t understand," he says. "We’re also recommending that the immigrant tell the officer they want to speak to an attorney, and that if they do choose to speak to an ICE officer, that they tell the truth.”
He also adds that in the wake of families being separated, “it’s critically important to have a plan for your children. For example, who is going to pick up your child from school if Dad is unauthorized and is [detained]?”
William Lopez is a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. He says raids are being discussed as the removal of “undocumented families,” but it is more likely that people being detained will be from “mixed status families,” or families in which some family members are undocumented but others are not. He says this creates fear within communities.
“What we are likely to see is people avoiding work, children missing school, sick community members not seeing their doctor or getting prenatal care, and no one trusting the police, even if they have nothing to do with immigration enforcement," he says.
Thomson adds that most warrants granted to ICE are for the arrests of a specific person, rather than warrants to enter a home, so immigrants are not obligated to open their doors if ICE knocks.
“ICE will wait for the person they're looking for to leave their house, and they'll pull over the car that the person is in on their way to work. That's a very common practice because ICE officers know they're not allowed to enter the house without permission,” he says.
Thomson says the sheer amount of detentions that the government is talking about could be overwhelming for a system already struggling to find space for immigrants.
“Here in Michigan, there are three main immigration jails. One is in Battle Creek, one is in Monroe, and one is in Port Huron. Most of the detained immigrants get sent to one of these three jails. What we see often is these jails get completely full," says Thomson. "I’m interested to see how the government is going to respond in terms of actually processing these immigrants for removal, if Trump actually does fulfill his promise to significantly the amount of immigration arrests in the near future.”
Lopez says that support from community organizers and activists is crucial to undocumented immigrants within the community at all times, not just after they are detained.
“In our work, we've seen that one of the best predictors of a robust response is a spirit of collaboration between the white citizen community and immigrant community before any enforcement even happens. So keep your organizations running. Keep your advocacy going. Keep your collaborations strong,” he says.