Activities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a part of the United States Department of Homeland Security, and runs a nationwide enforcement initiative to identify, arrest and remove undocumented immigrants with a prior order of removal, deportation or exclusion. During the course of their raids, ICE teams often encounter people without prior deportation orders and without criminal records. ICE has maintained its right to arrest and deport these people as well. But ICE agents are not just sweeping up noncitizens they encounter in the process of seeking “fugitive aliens.”
Furthermore, through tactics of intimidation, coercion, threats, and sometimes even force, ICE agents have violated people’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights and the rights of their families. The U.S. Constitution explicitly states that it protects all people, which includes immigrants, from unreasonable searches and seizures (Fourth Amendment) and self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment).
In some of the more egregious cases, ICE officers have entered homes without warrants, even when warrants were requested; U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents have been held in custody; people have been threatened and coerced into signing away their rights and been immediately deported from the United States, leaving their families, including young children, behind; and detainees have not been provided with basic information regarding their rights or have had their very basic rights violated. As a result of these illegal practices, hardworking immigrants have been forced to depart from the United States, often leaving their U.S. citizen children behind.
Combating ICE Raids
In response to these raids, and in order to provide the resources for people to protect themselves against ICR and its tactics, the ILRC developed "Red Cards,” plastic cards with instructions in Spanish on how to exercise your constitutional rights on one side, and an English statement on the other side that the person giving the card to an ICE agent is not opening the door or answering any questions, rights protected for all people by the US Constitution. Cards distributed in the Bay Area have a hotline number as well, for a United Way representative who can put the caller in contact with legal and social services after a raid, if necessary.
The Power of the Red Card
ILRC receives reports of people successfully exercising their rights — especially in not letting ICE agents into their homes — and therefore avoiding being detained or forced to leave the U.S. This is a very exciting project for the ILRC, as it empowers immigrants to assert their rights, engages long-standing and new allies in providing legal and social services, and leverages the commitment and resources of pro bono attorneys from some of the largest and most powerful law firms in the world. By drawing on the strength of different groups, we significantly decrease the consequences of ICE raids on immigrant families and communities. During the rest of 2008 we will be expanding the project to other parts of California and, if we obtain additional resources, we hope to expand to expand beyond California and make national impact with new partners in affected areas in the future.