CLINIC advises: Stay calm, know the facts about recent deportations

Jan 8, 2016

Silver Spring, MD—The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., (CLINIC) has produced an information sheet to help people understand the recent enforcement actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take into custody and deport families. Although the Jan. 2-3 actions took place in a handful of states, they have led to an environment of confusion and fear in immigrant communities around the country.

The Department of Homeland Security has made clear that it will continue to pick up people for deportation, based on priorities set out in this November 2014 memorandum. The key to who was detained in the early January actions is that all of these families had been in the country a relatively short time, had been through immigration proceedings and had an order of deportation after seeing an immigration judge.

Some of the families have received temporary stays of deportation as a result of appeals filed on their behalf by attorneys working with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Representation and Advocacy Project, of which CLINIC is a partner. Most have already been returned to their home countries, after being processed at a DHS family detention center in Texas.

CLINIC’s information sheet, in English and Spanish, is intended to provide the staffs of our affiliates, parishes and other organizations a useful guide to which rumors and other reports have merit and which do not. It may be freely distributed electronically or in printed form. It will be revised as changing circumstances warrant, so check CLINIC’s website regularly.

“We’ve heard from our affiliates and parishes around the country that whole communities of immigrants are afraid to go to church or school, for instance, because someone told them ICE might go there to pick up people,” said Jeanne Atkinson, CLINIC’s executive director. “An ICE memorandum from 2011 specifically says the agency’s policy is to stay out of churches, schools and events like protest rallies except in cases such as a threat of imminent terrorism. There’s absolutely no reason to think ICE contemplates any change from that policy.”

“However,” Atkinson added, “some immigrants certainly are at greater risk of being deported than others. The DHS deportation priorities make it clear that deportation will continue, but that the focus will be on certain groups. Like most immigration-related matters, everyone’s situation is different. Getting legal advice about one’s status can help ease people’s minds or show them what steps they need to take to protect themselves.”

The information sheet, “Stay Calm: Information about recent deportations,” also offers basic legal rights information and suggestions for how families at greater risk of deportation can prepare for that possibility. It includes links to more detailed legal rights material and to CLINIC resources for finding an attorney or authorized legal representative.