Preparing Yourself to Live in Trump’s Great America
What does everyone need to do to prepare for the Trump administration?
Make a plan for what to do if you are detained. Keep track of all your important documents, such as birth certificates, passports, medical reports, criminal records, and immigration paperwork. Make sure a trusted family member has this information. If you have children or other relatives in your care, plan for someone to care for them, and if necessary, have a medical proxy or appropriate guardianship papers. Save money for bond, which can be well over $10,000 if you have any criminal record including a DUI.
Avoid arrest. Immigration officials can detain people who have been arrested by local police, even if criminal charges are never filed, or even if a judge dismisses charges. Arrests and convictions, even for misdemeanors, can make it harder to get bond from immigration detention, and can interfere with forms of relief in immigration court such as cancellation of removal, asylum, and permanent residency. Driving without a license or insurance is a red flag, and local police must share your data with Homeland Security when you are booked, even in so-called “sanctuary cities” and places with “Trust” policies.
If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, seek help immediately. If you have been drinking, or if you do not have a license, get a ride or use public transportation or a service like Uber. It’s less expensive than bond, an attorney, or starting your life over after deportation.
Even though marijuana is now legal in many jurisdictions, possession is still a federal crime and can interfere with immigration status. Avoid all drugs. Understand that “paying a fine” or “doing probation” or “expunging your record” does not “make a case go away” for immigration purposes.
Avoid making false claims to US citizenship, for example, by using a fake passport or social security number to get a driver’s license.
If you are charged with a crime, make sure your attorney explains all the immigration consequences. The intersection of criminal and immigration law is a very complicated field which changes every day. A good criminal defense lawyer will ask about your current status, your criminal history, your immigration history, and your goals. She will often consult with an immigration attorney to evaluate the risks of any plea deal you consider. DO NOT plead guilty without understanding how your case could affect your future.