Over the next two years, unless Congress or the White House change course, young, unauthorized immigrants’ eligibility to remain in the U.S. will expire — but not all are leaving.
“You can feel the tension in some places,” said University of Idaho law student Andrew Augustine. “People are afraid.”
Augustine and David Delyea, two third-year law students, assembled and are distributing a guide for people with families at risk of deportation or who are at risk themselves.
The students are working under the supervision of Kate Evans, director of UI’s Immigration Law Clinic with lawyer Maria Andrade and with funding from the Mexican consulate.
As recipients lose Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an expiring Obama-era executive order, they don’t lose their rights under the Constitution. The guide outlines the rights of unauthorized immigrants when interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and gives suggestions for emergency plans in case of deportation.
ICE officers, however, are not police.
According to the guide, if a warrant is not signed by a judge, it is not the search or arrest warrants most people are familiar with. Unlike those judicial warrants, ICE’s administrative warrants do not grant ICE officers permission to enter a home without consent, even if the officer suggests otherwise.
“Just don’t open the door,” Delyea said.
However, avoiding ICE may not be a viable option for many. The last part of the document contains copies of actual forms people can fill out in case of detention and deportation to ensure the affairs of their family are in order.
Delyea said if detained, undocumented immigrants are generally stripped of any control over their affairs.
“They don’t immediately give you access to an attorney,” Delyea said. “They don’t let you contact your family. By following portions of this guide, you will know that your family is safe.”
Delyea said the guide includes example forms in both English and Spanish as well as real forms to be filled out. Among the forms, Delyea said the power of attorney form to delegate parental power is one of the most important. Without it, Delyea said children who are U.S. citizens but children of undocumented immigrants may put into the foster care system.
“It’s a powerful form,” Delyea said. “It doesn’t require a court. You can sign it in your own home and hand it to the person. It is also good to share it with the school and hospital.”
Augustine said the guide also includes a form for financial power of attorney and a list of relevant lawyers in Idaho.
The group has held trainings in Idaho towns Driggs, Idaho Falls, Burley, Jerome and Hailey. Augustine said the trainings have two intended audiences.
“The first is the people who need this,” Augustine said. “Second is community members – from teachers to librarians to community leaders – people who have influence and can share the document. You train one person and they spread the word to other people.”
Delyea said he and Augustine had trained over 70 people. Augustine said this was despite low turnout to a training held in Jerome.
“ICE is present in Jerome,” Delyea said. “There was speculation that ICE would show up to the training.”
Over this month and next, trainings will be held in the southern Idaho towns of Caldwell, Weiser and Wilder.
Third year law students may take a clinic class for which they work on real cases through one of the College of Law’s law clinics. The guide’s references to laws and the forms included are Idaho-specific and may not apply to other states.
“We’re not trying to obstruct any political goals,” Augustine said. “We’re trying to tell people what their rights are.”
Nishant Mohan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NishantRMohan