Fake flyers with the title “Sanctuary City Neighborhood Public Notice,”
sprouted up in parts of Washington, D.C., urging residents to turn in
undocumented neighbors. The flyers were superimposed on ICE letterhead
and detailed offenses for those “harboring, encouraging/ inducing,
or conspiracy/aiding or abetting” people who are in the country
illegally. "If you see something, say something," the flyer
stated. To anyone reading them, the flyers appeared by all accounts to
be authentic communications from ICE. The flyers intended purpose was
to stoke fear in an already frightened community.
As soon as news spread, D.C. officials took to social media to decry the
flyers as fake and dangerous. Residents were urged to tear the signs down.
The fact of the matter is fear is not a new tactic when it comes to the
topic of immigration. In the immigrant community, rumors of ICE checkpoints
and raids spread quickly. Too many times, these rumors turn out to be
false flags and are used only to instill fear. The reality of the current
political climate stands to reason, that while these flyers were fake
this time, they may not be fake next time. ICE checkpoints and unannounced
raids are a reality in today’s world.
As an immigration attorney, I point to events like these to remind my clients
of how important it is to be prepared, should the worse happen. While
the current administration has made every undocumented individual a priority
for removal, it does not mean that every undocumented individual will
be removed. It is important to have a plan in place should you come into
contact with ICE. Having a plan in place can make the difference between
having your day in court and being deported without a chance to fight.
So what are some of the things that your plan should include?
· Carry a card with the contact information of your immigration
attorney and indicating that you wish to remain silent.
· If you have children, make arrangements in advance for a family
member or friend to care for them if you are detained.
· Have the telephone numbers of this relative or friend with you
at all times and make sure people know of these plans.
· Make sure your family has your immigration number (if you have
one) and your full name and date of birth.
· Have a copy of all your immigration documents.
Finally, contact an immigration attorney.
The area of immigration law is complex and often times incredibly difficult
to maneuver. Never rely on advice you saw on TV or received from a neighbor,
but instead seek out an experienced immigration attorney to properly evaluate
your case for any possible relief available to you. The best way to fight
fear is to educate and arm yourself with the knowledge of what avenues
are open to you.
is an Associate with the Federal Practice Group, and focuses her practice
in immigration law. Ms. Lockwood is fluent in both English and Spanish
and has substantive experience in immigration law.
She is an immigrant herself, coming to the United States from Mexico in 1996.