Immigrant-rights groups released a new video Monday coaching illegal immigrants on their constitutional rights and how to avoid run-ins with federal deportation agents, as advocates gear up to try to thwart as many deportations as possible.
The video is part of a growing infrastructure designed to protect illegal immigrants from legal consequences under President Trump, and gives instructions on handling everything from encounters on the streets to when agents show up at a home with a deportation warrant.
“If they come here, to the house, don’t open the doors. ‘No abran las puertas,’” the advocates say in a 7-minute training video, released by a coalition that’s dubbed itself Informed Immigrant.
The video is aimed at children, who are encouraged to get their families to plan for potential encounters with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and agents.
Already, officers say they’re seeing far fewer people willing to open doors to them in recent months as warnings take hold.
The new video does warn illegal immigrants against driving if they don’t have a license, urges them not to carry false papers and repeatedly cautions against attempting to flee authorities.
But it does offer strategies for encounters. If illegal immigrant parents have children that are U.S. citizens, they are encouraged to mention them in the hope that it would sway agents to leave the family alone.
If they have children that are in the country illegally, they are advised not to mention them. Otherwise, the video says, the children could become targets for deportation themselves.
“Don’t carry papers from another country with you, such as a foreign passport. Such papers could be used against you in the deportation process,” the video says.
ICE officers usually carry administrative warrants authorizing arrest for deportation purposes, but they are not criminal warrants signed by a judge, and the video says they do not carry the same force of law — so illegal immigrants do not have to let officers in, or even open the door for them.
Some immigrant-rights advocates are going even further to try to protect illegal immigrants.
Colleges are encouraging illegal immigrant students who have taken advantage of President Obama’s 2012 deportation amnesty for Dreamers, known as the DACA program, to take school-sponsored trips outside the U.S. Because of the way the law works, that gives the DACA recipients a chance to apply for advance parole, a program that can put them on a pathway to citizenship.
And defense lawyers have distributed a document coaching other lawyers on charges they should try to plead down in order to avoid running afoul of Obama administration deportation priorities.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last week that a California prosecutor even lowered the charges against someone a repeat offender accused of domestic violence “so that the abuser wouldn’t be deported.”
“Think about the message that sends: If you are an alien and you commit domestic violence, prosecutors will charge you with a lesser crime so you can stay in the country,” Mr. Sessions said, calling for an end to the practice. “Enough is enough.”