On Thursday, January 19th, Revere Public Schools hosted a Family Engagement Night featuring the Rian Immigrant Center. The session was held in the Revere High School Learning Common.
The Rian Immigrant Center is a Boston-based, non-profit organization specializing in legal services for immigrants.
“Rian empowers immigrants, refugees, and international exchange visitors on a path to opportunity, safety, and a better future.” (Rian Immigrant Center)
Rian provides immigration legal services, resource and support services, education and career services, an international exchange visitor Visa program, and community-building opportunities. They advocate for just and humane immigration policies.
Susan Roses, Director of Legal Programs, led the presentation. She presented in English, while interpretation services were available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic.
There are 44.4 million immigrants in the United States. The total US Population is approximately 332,000,000.
Of the 44.4 million immigrants, 45% are Naturalized Americans (after the citizenship exam), 27% are Lawful Permanent Residents (with a green card), 23% are Undocumented, and 5% are temporary legal residents.
The theme of the evening was “Know Your Rights.” Topics included “Red Cards” and understanding the 4th and 5th Amendments.
“The ILRC’s (Immigrant Legal Resource Center) Red Cards help people assert their rights and defend themselves in many situations, such as when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents (ICE agents) go to a home.” They can also be used when confronted in public or one’s car. (ILRC Red Cards)
After reviewing the Don’ts on the Red Cards with participants, Ms. Roses presented information about the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Simply put, the 4th Amendment gives everyone the right to privacy in their home.
Any immigration warrant should be checked to ensure it is the correct document with a valid signature. If officers or agents arrive at someone’s home, the warrant they present must be signed by a federal or state judge. The signature of an immigration officer is not valid to force entry into the home. Don’t allow an agent into the house; ask them to slide the warrant under the door or against a window.
This right to privacy does not extend to being in public. If an officer confronts someone in public, the officer is allowed to stop that person with a warrant signed by an immigration officer or by a judge.
The next topic was the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 5th Amendment gives everyone the right to silence. This right will be familiar to anyone who watches courtroom dramas and has seen people “plead the fifth” on TV. However, the right to silence expands past the courtroom.
Ms. Roses explained that if an officer stops someone in public, that person is not required to speak to the officer. An officer can ask for someone’s name, but aside from that, providing additional information is unnecessary. Ms. Roses also explained this is a situation in which a person can use their Red Card.
If an officer stops someone while driving, the officer can ask for the driver’s license, registration, and insurance information. These documents should be provided so as not to be arrested on a criminal charge, such as driving without a license.
Also important to note is everyone should always have their emergency phone numbers memorized or written on a piece of paper. This is because law enforcement will frequently confiscate cell phones.
It is worth noting that the 4th and 5th Amendments apply to anyone in the United States, regardless of immigration status.
If someone is arrested, they have the right to remain silent and be represented by an attorney. If someone is arrested on criminal charges, they can hire their own lawyer; if they cannot afford one, a public defender will be provided.
If someone is charged in Immigration Court, they must pay for their attorney. Ms. Roses explained that there are options for low-cost immigration attorneys if the person cannot afford an attorney.
The two types of available representation in immigration proceedings are a licensed attorney and a BIA Accredited Representative. BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals) representatives can provide legal representation only in immigration proceedings.
Notary Publics are not authorized to practice law and cannot represent anyone in immigration proceedings.
Ms. Roses also clearly explained that no one should sign a document unless they understand it. If someone does not understand a document and signs it and it contains incriminating information, that document can be used against that person. No one should discuss their immigration status with anyone aside from their attorney.
The session ended with information on contacting the Rian Immigrant Center and time for questions and answers.
All participants received a Red Card and a sample of a warrant.
To contact the Rian Immigrant Center, call (617)-984-6542 for new client appointments or (617)-542-7654 for other information. For additional contact information, visit them here.
For additional information about immigration rights and services, visit the ACLU.