Immigrant’s Distrust of Law Enforcement

Even as a victim of a crime or traffic violation, an immigrant can be arrested, detained and possibly deported when law enforcement is involved.

The fastest way to inform the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) of your illegal immigrant status or your past/present violation of the immigration laws is to interact with police, prosecutors or jail personnel without proper legal representation.

It is important to understand that even a simple traffic violation could be the beginning of a hard and very stressful battle to remain in the U.S. once ICE is notified of the nationality of the violator. In a matter of minutes, the traffic violator is questioned, arrested and held in the custody ICE while awaiting the issuance, service and filing of a Notice to Appear, which initiates the person’s removal from the United States. ICE is acting in connection with state and local officials to enforce the immigration laws and it is giving priority to cases that involve criminal behavior.

Domestic violence incidents, DUI, traffic violations and minor violations of the criminal code are no longer resolved as easily as in the past. One step in the State or County jail and in a matter of hours you have a hold preventing your release after state criminal proceedings end, leaving families with no choice but to avoid any type of confrontation with the police even as a victim.

Impact on Reported Crime

Unfortunately, the fear the Latino population is experiencing will result in hundreds of unreported crimes sometimes involving heinous crimes such as domestic violence, child and sexual abuse. This is due to the fear of being arrested by the immigration authorities and deported with limited options to remain in the United States. Additionally, because of the increase in actions that lead to deportation proceedings of illegal or permanent resident aliens and the few remedies, waivers or defenses that can be raised to prevent his removal, some cases end in deportation with no opportunity to ever re-enter.

It is absolutely crucial to consult an immigration attorney before speaking to authorities as soon as representation is granted. An immigration attorney will be able to discuss your illegal status or legal status in violation of immigration laws and the chances you have to resolve your immigration situation. Speaking to authorities without any representation will further complicate and hinder any chances of a positive outcome.

Eliana Phelps

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