Know your rights
Whether you’re a U.S. citizen, a green card holder, a student on a visa, or undocumented, you have legal rights. At this time of aggressive immigration enforcement, it is ever more crucial to be well prepared for a potential encounter with law enforcement or immigration agents.
MIRA’s staff attorney provides “know your rights” trainings for groups; fill out this form to request one. We can also connect you with AILA New England and the PAIR Project, who offer trainings as well, in multiple languages, across Massachusetts.
If you are an immigrant at risk of deportation (including Dreamers and others with insecure status), we encourage you to start with three key resources:
- The ACLU has detailed know-your-rights advice for different scenarios.
- We have guides for emergency planning for immigrant families and a helpful introductory video.
- The Notifica app, created by United We Dream, is an invaluable tool in an emergency.
MIRA has also partnered with CHIRLA to make the educational 20-minute feature film America; I Too available to community organizations that wish to use it for know-your-rights trainings. Contact Marion Davis for more information.
- The National Immigration Law Center has a succinct Know Your Rights tutorial, complete with pocket cards for immigrants to use if they are stopped by ICE or the police. It is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, and Chinese (traditional and simplified characters).
- The Immigrant Defense Project has a more detailed 2-page flyer available in 15 languages; a wall poster to hang at home, with key rights and essential information to document; and an 11-page booklet (English or Spanish), Immigration Arrests in the Community: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Rights, detailing trends in enforcement and your rights.
- Defend Against ICE Raids and Community Arrests, a toolkit by the Immigrant Defense Project and the Center for Constitutional Rights, is a comprehensive guide and organizing resource to fight back against efforts to criminalize communities and deport millions of people.
- Know Your Rights and What Immigrant Families Should do Now, a 2-page flyer issued by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, available in English and Spanish.
- Know Your Rights: Is It Safe to Apply for Health Insurance or Seek Health Care? From NILC, versions available in English and Spanish.
For public health workers
Public Health Awakened, a group of public health professionals organizing a health equity-based response to the Trump administration, has published a Guide to Public Health Actions for Immigrant Rights, for people working at local health agencies who are looking to protect and support undocumented residents and their families.
Report civil rights violations, acts of hate and harassment
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has launched a Hotline to Report Incidents of Bias-Motivated Threats, Harassment, and Violence in the wake of the presidential election. Residents can call 1-800-994-3228 or fill out an online civil rights complaint form if they’ve witnessed or experienced bias-motivated threats, harassment or violence against immigrants; racial, ethnic and religious minorities; women; and LGBTQ individuals. The Hotline and complaint forms are available in English and Spanish.
Potential hate crimes – including bias-motivated assault, battery, and property damage – should also be reported to the local police. If you fear for your immediate safety, call 911.
Emergency plans for families
Parents whose immigration status is uncertain are encouraged to make emergency plans for the care and custody of their children in the event of a sudden detention by immigration officials and possible deportation. There are several different legal options, and the right choice for each family will depend on the specific circumstances. For example, it matters whether you have relatives with legal status who can help you, and where they live. You’ll also want to consider your child’s needs (e.g. medical concerns).
To explore your options, MIRA recommends that you review guides prepared by the Mass. Attorney General’s office (available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Portuguese) and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (in English, with helpful forms to fill out).
If your children might need to move abroad in the event of a deportation in the family, make sure they have a passport! They may be eligible for a U.S. passport, but also consider getting them a passport from your country of birth; the Mexican and Salvadoran consulates, for example, have actively encouraged their citizens to do this. Here is a list of consulates in Boston.