President Trump postponed the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sweep that he announced would take place last weekend in 10 major American cities including New Orleans. Since he tied the delay to his request that Congressional Democrats revise asylum laws, it’s probable that we’ll end up facing the same enforcement sweep in two weeks that people prepared for this weekend. Preparation is crucial because families could be separated if ICE follows through on its threat.
The obvious first step for those in danger of removal is to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to see if there are any options to pursue lawful status. After that, it is important that immigrants know their rights. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was just one of many people who circulated memes last weekend that listed those rights, including, “You have the right not to open the door,” and “You have the right against unlawful searches by ICE agents.” Memes that list these rights can’t be circulated enough.
Families that might be affected by an ICE sweep also need to have hard conversations to prepare for the possibility that a family member might be picked up. Writer Juan Pablo Garnham spoke with members of Houston’s undocumented community about how they were planning, including parents adding their children’s names to checking accounts and assessing the family’s finances and ability to pay bills if one income were taken out of the equation.
Families also need to think about custody issues. Garnham wrote:
Camila is a 25-year-old undocumented immigrant from Colombia who also asked that her full name not be used. The only person in her family who is a U.S. citizen is her 10-year-old sister, who has Down syndrome. Camila's mother figured out guardianship of her younger sister as soon as Trump took office.
“My mom went to a lawyer and signed a document leaving my grandmother in charge of my sister,” she said.
“My mother was very proactive. And I think we need to be pragmatic, especially given the current situation in the country,” Camila said. “We need to be prepared. We’ve already heard of many cases where the kids stay alone here and in charge of the government. We don’t want that for us.”
Earlier this year, we recommended Louisiana Appleseed’s guide to preparation for possible deportation, and it remains a good, commonsensical document. It walks through ways to secure immigrants’ legal, economic, and familial assets to the degree possible, underscoring users’ rights in the process.