Today, President Trump will hold a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, where it is rumored he may pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. President Trump has historically supported Mr. Arpaio and praised his tough stance on immigration and Mr. Arpaio has requited this sentiment, acting as an early supporter and voice for President Trump’s campaign and divisive immigration rhetoric.
Tensions are high across America after the tragic events in Charlottesville just over a week ago. Many fear that the President’s appearance in Arizona will spark deeper division and conflict in an already divided city. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton would prefer the President not hold this event, stating; “If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to inflame emotions and further divide our nation.”
Mr. Arpaio was recently convicted of criminal contempt by a federal judge in Arizona stemming from his disregard for a court order barring him from racially profiling and targeting the Latino population. He is scheduled for sentencing on October 5, and faces up to six months in jail. While his underlying conviction is not directly attributable to immigration, it echoes the tumultuous tenure of Mr. Arpaio’s racially motivated police procedures that knowingly and intentionally targeted Hispanic people, wreaked havoc on Maricopa County’s immigrant population, and left the community with a damaged relationship with law enforcement.
Over the weekend, attorneys, organizations, and individuals have worked tirelessly to ensure those engaging in civil disobedience will have support and resources.
Whether or not you or your clients are in Phoenix, planning to protest, it seems like an appropriate time to offer some guidance about protests and what one’s rights are during actions like this. As a resource, ACLU published excellent guidelines: “Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protests” which I encourage everyone to take a look at.
At events like these, there will be a strong law enforcement presence – seen and unseen. And it’s expected that immediate downtown perimeters will have internet blocked/scrambled and private messages via cell conversations (phone calls and texts) could be monitored.
As hard as this is for me to write, it seems to me that undocumented immigrants and Dreamers (DACA recipients) should think very hard before protesting at these events. Even if you are abiding by the law and complying with police instructions, any law enforcement contact is a risk. Incidental interactions could lead to detention, revocation of DACA and other negative immigration consequences. No matter what you decide, I promise you will have a strong voice via the countless advocates, allies and protesters committed to giving you a voice and standing with you in solidarity in Phoenix and elsewhere.
That said, I know some immigrants are planning to attend these types of events despite the risks. A full list of precautions for non-citizens is available from the ACLU. This resource should be reviewed in detail, but AILA also provides tips in “Know Your Rights: If ICE Stops You in Public.”
- You have the right to remain silent. If you are asked where you were born or how you entered the United States, you may refuse to answer. If you choose to remain silent, say so out loud.
- DO NOT LIE ABOUT YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS OR PROVIDE FAKE DOCUMENTS. You may, however, refuse to show identity documents that say what country you are from.
- You have the right to speak to a lawyer. Even if you do not have one, you may tell the officers that you want to speak to an attorney.
- You can refuse to sign anything until you have had the opportunity to speak to a lawyer. Never sign something if you do not understand it.
- If you are detained: do not resist; say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer; do not say/sign anything or make decisions without an attorney; do not discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer and know your immigration number (“A” number) and give it to your family.
Preparedness is the one thing I can wholeheartedly take comfort in. The dedication of countless individuals and organizations to ensuring Tuesday’s participants and those at future events are protected is incredibly inspiring. Today and every day, #AILAStandsWithImmigrants.