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Visit this page monthly to learn about our most frequently asked questions regarding various topics regarding Immigration, Personal Injury, and more!

July 2020

ICE Stops and Your Rights

Getting stopped by law enforcement is an intimidating experience for anyone, but can be extremely intimidating for individuals without status. Many
questions can run through your mind. Should I give them my identification document? Do I have to answer their questions? Do I have rights?

There are three categories of people who are at risk of being detained by ICE. In recent years, ICE have been primarily targeting those who have overstayed their visa, have been previously ordered deported, have lawful status with certain criminal convictions, and those who do not have lawful status but have certain criminal convictions. ICE has implemented a policy on non-arrests at sensitive locations. Some of these locations are schools, religious institutions, funeral, hospitals and protests.

If an ICE officer questions you, it is important to stay calm and not to argue or resist. Do not provide false documents or lie. You have a right to remain silent and should tell the ICE officer you want to exercise that right. In some states, you may be required to provide your name or identification.

An ICE officer can stop you in public without a warrant. They do not have the right to search you without a warrant or your consent. You can ask an ICE officer for their identification because often times they will allow people to assume they are police officers. You can refuse to answer their questions and ask them if you are free to go. If you show an ICE agent your ID, you can tell the officer you are refusing to show your ID. If you start court proceedings you can state you refused to show your ID. If an ICE officer detains you, you have the right to consult with an attorney. You should not say or sign anything until your attorney is present. It is rare for an ICE officer to arrest a person at their place of work, but if it does happen, you would follow the same instructions as you would in public.

ICE officers will make road stops.If you are pulled over by an ICE agent while in your car, safely pull over and ask who they are and why you are being pulled over. Roll your window down enough to speak to them clearly, but not low enough where they can grab you. ICE officers have been known to break windows. You may show them your drivers license if your state law requires it and remain silent. If the ICE officer tells you they have a warrant, ask to see it and look for your name. If you do decide to get out of your car, they cannot search you without a warrant or your consent. If they do, tell them you do not consent to the search. If you are placed in court proceedings, you can state you were searched without your consent.

The most protection an individual has, no matter your immigration status, is your home. If an ICE officer comes to your home, you can ask them for identification or for a warrant if they claim they have one. It is important to look for your name on the warrant because ICE officers are known to present a warrant that is not for the individual they claim the warrant is for. The warrant must have your name and be signed by a judge to be valid. You do not have to open the door and can ask the ICE officer to leave. If the ICE officer breaks into your home, continue to tell them to leave.

If you are witnessing an ICE raid, you may record what is happening or write down details to help the individual in their case. It is important to document where and when the encounter happened, how the ICE officer presented themselves, what was said by the ICE officer, and was force used or consent given?

June 2020

Immigrant Contribution to the US Economy

The United States has become a symbol of opportunity for those who feel they cannot prosper or gain upward mobility in their country. It is a country that offers refuge to those who have been persecuted in their home country. The U.S. is viewed as a place of hope, stability, and economic growth. For these reasons, many people immigrate to the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, there has been a long-standing rhetoric that immigration negatively effects the U.S. economy and takes away job opportunities from Americans. President Donald Trump continues to stroke those fears by constantly making statements against immigration. Trump has said, “Illegal immigration hurts American workers, burdens American taxpayers and undermines public safety, and places enormous strains on local schools, hospitals and communities in general”. The truth is that immigration has a positive impact on the U.S. economy.

Immigrants contribute more in tax revenue than they take in government benefits. It is believed undocumented immigrants are using public benefits, but this is far from the truth. To qualify for public benefits, an immigrant will need to be a legal permanent resident. Americans are more likely to receive public benefits than immigrants. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.6 billion a year in taxes. That same study found if all undocumented immigrants were given legal status to work, their contribution to their local and state tax would increase about $2.1 billion a year. They also add to the Social Security trust fund and to Medicare. Their monetary contribution greatly benefits the U.S. economy.

‘Immigrants are taking American jobs’. This is a phrase that has been raised often in discussions about immigration and the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics immigrants make up 17% of the U.S. labor force. The jobs immigrants are taking are usually jobs Americans do not apply for. According to a July 2017 report from New American Economy, immigrants are 15.7% more likely to work during unusual working hours than U.S. born employees. Immigrants help fill in the gaps left by native born Americans who are not applying for less desirable jobs.

Immigrants benefit the U.S. economy in many different ways. They fill in the gaps in the labor force, they boost economic growth by increasing demand for services and goods, and they help raise the U.S. birth rate. The U.S. birth rate has been going down and if this continues economic growth will become stagnate and there will be a smaller workforce. Immigrants do not hurt native born American workers or burden American taxpayers. Immigrants fill the gaps in the labor force left by native born Americans and contribute to state and local taxes, which help fund for better public safety, education, and the community.

May 2020

A Brief History of Immigration in the U.S.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is built on a history of exclusion and expulsion. The justifications for exclusion and expulsion have evolved over time as well as the targeted groups of immigrants. The U.S has been able to garner a reputation of welcoming immigrants, while at the same time imposing many restrictions.

In 1849, the United States established its first anti-immigration political party known as the “Know-Nothing Party’. The party was created because there was an increase of German and Irish immigrants settling in the United States. Some of the complaints made against German and Iris immigrants were that they arrived sick and close to death because of the long voyage. The second immigration wave began in the 1880s when the United States entered a period of rapid urbanization and industrialization. Between 1880 and 1920, more than 20 million immigrants arrived in the United States. Although the majority of immigrants came from Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe, in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed barring Chinese immigrants from entering the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act was created in response to the anti-Chinese sentiment that was growing against successful Chinese laborers. This Act was the first in American history to target a particular immigrant group and place broad restrictions on their entry and path to naturalization. In May of 1924, the Immigration Act of 1924 was created to limit the number of immigrants allowed to enter the United States by establishing nationality quotas. The law favored immigrants entering from Northern and Western European countries while excluding immigrants from Asia.

There have been many more immigration waves, but the wave that is currently making a lot of headlines are those coming from Mexico. In 1929, the United States criminalized illegal entry and reentry as a way to control labor flows from Mexico. When the United States entered World War II, there was a massive labor shortage. The Bracero Program was created in 1942 which allowed Mexican agricultural workers to enter the United States to work temporarily. Now in 2020, the exclusion of Mexicans has expanded to the whole Latin American community. A false rhetoric of fear has been created by categorizing all who come from Latin American countries a extremely dangerous criminals. The justification for the mass detention and deportation has been for national security purposes. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the justification for mass detention and deportation has been adjusted to public safety.

The United States has a complicated history when it comes to immigration. The United States has evolved in way where it tends to favor exclusion rather than inclusion. It no longer openly embraces its mantra of “…give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free…”, which is associated with the Statute of Liberty. It now focuses on who can meet certain requirements to become American.

How does the stimulus check impact me?

Due to the recent Covid-19 Pandemic, the government has passed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. Under this Act, most taxpayers have or will receive up to $1,200. Taxpayers who are married filing jointly will receive $2,400. Taxpayers with dependents under the age of 17 years old will also receive an additional $500 for each qualifying dependent. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS continues to send out stimulus checks, but there may be delays due to additional information the IRS may need from the taxpayer.

According to the IRS website, U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents will receive the stimulus check for individuals or head of household filers. Taxpayers married filing jointly will receive the stimulus check if they are not dependent of another taxpayer and have a social security number. Those who are not eligible for the stimulus check include individuals who do not have a social security number and individuals who are nonresident aliens.

American citizens married to undocumented immigrants are ineligible to receive the stimulus check. Although a tax filer and their children use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the American citizen will not qualify to receive the stimulus check. A spokesman for one of the Republican Senators who helped create the bill has noted that American citizens who file separately from their undocumented spouse may still be eligible to receive the stimulus check. A married couple filing separately can receive $1,200 for the U.S. citizen taxpayer. However, a married couple filing separately may not receive the full amount because of different income limits based on marital status. Filing separate tax returns may also increase a family with children’s tax burden or eliminate the opportunity to secure a stimulus check for qualifying children. If the IRS used a married couple’s 2018 tax returns married filed jointly, they may be able to file a dispute with the IRS.

There are many concerns about whether submitting tax returns filed as “married filing separate” will affect an immigrant petition. Married couples may lawfully file tax returns as “married filing separate”. USCIS is primarily concerned with establishing a bona fide marriage. Tax returns are one of the many pieces of evidence USCIS looks at to make their determination.

Immigrant advocates at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund along with advocates from Villanova Law and Georgetown Law have filed separate lawsuits challenging the CARES Act. Plaintiffs include U.S. citizens married to undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizen children with undocumented parents. U.S. citizens married to undocumented immigrants argue the CARES Act violates their constitutional rights to free association, due process, and equal protection. U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants argue the CARES Act violates their due process and equal protection guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

Our law office will be watching this issue closely and will provide more information as it develops.