With ICE raids feared, Hispanics United for Perry helps people plan

About 80 attend Tuesday meeting, United We Are Prepared

Hispanics United for Perry members, from left, Tim Farmer, Jon Wolseth and Rosa Gonzalez led a discussion Tuesday night, "United We are Prepared," at the PHS Brady Library on safety plans and preparedness in the event of an immigration enforcement event in Perry.

Will U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents started rounding people up by the hundreds and thousands and deporting them en masse?

Will ICE lurk outside our schools and churches and hospitals and arrest us as we pick up our kids or say our prayers or visit our doctors?

Will the local police check my papers and deport me if my dog gets loose or my grass exceeds 8 inches?

In order to answer these and similar questions and to keep the community calm and informed, Hispanics United for Perry (HUP) hosted a discussion meeting Tuesday night at the Brady Library at Perry High School.

HUP members Rosa Gonzalez, Jon Wolseth and Tim Farmer led the meeting. They were joined by Perry Elementary School Co-Principal Ned Menke, Community Liaison Megan Maylum and Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson.

One purpose of the meeting was to encourage people to plan ahead for an emergency.

“We’re here to discuss ways in which the community members can be prepared in the event of an emergency in the community,” Wolseth said. “We’re thinking broadly but also specifically about an immigration event. The idea is to make sure folks have proper information, that they have a plan in advance in case something were to happen, if loved ones get separated, those kinds of things.”

About 80 people attended the 90-minute meeting.

Menke assured the parents with school-age children that the school district’s primary interest is in the safety of their children.

“Our number one priority in our school district is the safety of kids,” Menke said. “We have discussed a plan that we have in place in an emergency situation, such as an immigration raid.”

He said the elementary school has a plan with 40 to 50 volunteers “who would be opening their doors to students in the case of an emergency situation, such as an immigration raid.” He said most of the volunteers are school staff persons.

“Our staff very much shares the same concerns that are in this room tonight,” Menke said. “We have a very caring and compassionate staff of teachers and administrators who are very concerned as well. Safety is such a priority in our district, and we absolutely value every one of the kids who walks through our doors in the morning, and it’s our priority to teach them and make sure they get home safe to you guys.”

He said similar arrangements for safe houses are in place at the Perry Middle School and Perry High School.

Along with emergency planning, much of the discussion was devoted to legal rights and realities, with Farmer answering many questions about immigration law. Some of these points are illustrated in the graphic to the right.

Farmer is an immigration lawyer at Trey Sucher Law Firm in Perry. He said even informational meetings like Tuesday’s can seem risky to undocumented workers.

“I get scared, frankly,” Farmer said, “scared just like they are. I don’t think immigration would come to something like this, but so many things have happened in the last few months that I never thought would happen that I don’t know what to believe anymore.”

Farmer answered questions, with Gonzalez and Wolseth contributing additional comments.

“In general, people want to know how safe are they in our community,” Gonzalez said, summarizing the numerous questions. “They also want to know the position of the police in town. They want to know if the police is willing to cooperate with ICE or not.”

Perry Police Department Chief Eric Vaughn was not at Tuesday’s meeting but said in a previous interview that his officers do not regularly inquire into the residency status of people they encounter.

“We’re under no requirement to do that,” Vaughn said. “Am I aware that people are here without proper documentation? Yes, absolutely. But I guess it’s not my job at this point to make a determination whether somebody’s documented or undocumented. Until they come into a criminal contact with me, it really doesn’t matter to me. And if they’re a victim, they’re a victim. I really don’t care about their documentation either. And that’s one of those (messages) we’ve had a tough time getting over in Perry. We need those people to come to us when they become victims, and we don’t want them to be afraid to come to us just because they might not have citizenship or the right documentation. We want to help them whoever they are.”

One idea raised at the meeting received enthusiastic support from the audience: a system of city-issued identification cards. Johnson County in eastern Iowa has a popular program of county-issued cards, and Perry could start something similar.

Peterson said he would research the issue and draft a proposal to bring before the city council for its consideration.

“I’ll get on it,” Peterson said.

Gonzalez said the attendees seemed “very happy to see the support from the school and the city. That really helps the community to feel they have support behind this, and many people care about what’s going on.”

Wolseth also said the “mood felt good. People are glad that we’re doing something, that there’s support in the broader community, the school and the city in particular. There’s a lot of uncertainty out there, and we can’t control that, but to have that sense that they’re not alone, I know, is very important. There’s a huge psychological pressure right now on families, so any support is welcome.”

The following information from the National Immigration Law Center explains what to do if you are approached or detained by the immigration police.

¿Cuándo puede Inmigración entrar a mi hogar?

Los oficiales de inmigración no pueden entrar a su hogar a menos que tengan una orden oficial (“warrant”). La orden es un documento expedido por una agencia de gobierno o por una corte judicial. Hay dos clases de ordenes: una orden es para cuando vienen a arrestarlo (“orden de detención”) y la otra para cuando el oficial tiene el permiso de un juez para entrar y registrar su hogar (“orden de cateo” u “orden de allanamiento”). El Servicio de Control de Inmigración y Aduanas (“ICE” por sus siglas en inglés) puede expedir órdenes de detención, pero sólo una corte judicial puede expedir una orden de allanamiento.

Si un oficial toca su puerta, no la abra. Pregúntele al oficial, a través de la puerta cerrada, que se identifique. Usted le puede preguntar, “¿Para quién trabaja usted?” o “¿En cuál agencia trabaja usted?”
Es posible que el oficial le conteste diciendo que él trabaja con el “Department of Homeland Security” (Departamento de Seguridad Nacional) o con el “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement” (Servicio de Control de Inmigración y Aduanas, o “ICE”). El oficial pudiera nombrar otra agencia. De todas formas, mantenga su puerta cerrada. A través de la puerta cerrada, pregúntele al oficial si tiene una orden oficial (en inglés, “warrant”).
Si el oficial le contesta que sí, no abra la puerta todavía. Pídale al oficial que le muestre la orden y que se la pase por debajo de la puerta.
Cuando revise la orden, busque su nombre, su dirección, y una firma. Esto le puede ayudar a decidir si la orden es válida o no. La orden estará escrita en inglés. Si usted tiene problemas en leerla o entenderla, pregúntele a otra persona en su hogar que lo ayude a leerla o a traducirla si es posible.
Si la orden no parece ser válida, usted debe devolverla por debajo de la puerta y decir que es incorrecto.
Si la orden que el oficial le enseña parece ser válida, busque en ella a ver si fue expedida por una corte judicial o por el Servicio de Control de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE).
Si la orden válida fue expedida por el Servicio de Control de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE) pero no por una corte, usted tiene el derecho de prohibirle al oficial que entre a su hogar. Si la orden es una orden de detención y no una orden de allanamiento, se aconseja que, si usted decide hablar con el oficial, usted salga de su casa para hablar con el sin dejar que entre a su hogar. Esto es muy importante si usted vive con otras personas que tengan problemas de inmigración, pues una vez le haya permitido al oficial que entre a su hogar, el oficial tendrá derecho de hacerle preguntas a cualquier otra persona que esté presente.
Si usted habla con el oficial (recuerde, fuera de su hogar — no lo deje entrar), no conteste ninguna pregunta. No firme ningún papel. Dígale al oficial que usted desea hablar con un abogado antes de decir cualquier cosa. No le provea al oficial ninguna clase de documentación que indique de que país es usted. Asegúrese de nunca cargar con usted ningún documento falso.
Otra manera en la cual un oficial de inmigración puede entrar a su hogar legalmente (además de tener una orden judicial válida) es si usted le da al oficial el permiso de entrar. Esto se llama “consentir” a que entren a su hogar.
Si usted abre la puerta, o si el oficial le pregunta si puede entrar y usted le dice que “sí,” usted probablemente ha consentido a que el oficial entre a su hogar.
Lo mejor que puede hacer es mantener su puerta cerrada y preguntarle al oficial que se identifique. Entonces pida ver la orden. No abra la puerta si el oficial no le muestra una orden judicial.
No le es permitido a un oficial que lo fuerce a consentir a que entre a su hogar. Por ejemplo, si su hogar está rodeado de automóviles pertenecientes a la patrulla fronteriza o Inmigración, y el oficial tiene en sus manos una arma de fuego cuando le pide permiso para entrar a su hogar (cuando le pide su consentimiento), y usted le dice que “sí” porque tiene miedo, es probable que la corte no considere que su consentimiento haya sido válido.

¿Cómo me puedo proteger si llegara Inmigración a mi hogar?

Si usted se entera que la Inmigración ha estado haciendo preguntas en su trabajo o que Inmigración esta conduciendo una investigación en su lugar de trabajo, es posible que los oficiales se aparezcan en su hogar.

Asegúrese de que alguien en quien usted confía sepa donde usted está, y que usted le pueda contactar en caso de una emergencia (si usted es detenido por Inmigración).
Usted y los miembros de su familia deben de tener los números de teléfono de abogados que se especializan en asuntos de inmigración cerca de su teléfono en su casa para que los pueda llamar en caso de que sea detenido.
Generalmente, es una buena idea tener una copia de sus documentos importantes (certificado de nacimiento, papeles de inmigración, etc.) en la casa de un amigo o familiar en quien usted confía y a quien pueda llamar en caso de que sea detenido.

¿Qué debo hacer si Inmigración visita mi lugar de trabajo?

Los oficiales de inmigración no están autorizados a entrar a su lugar de empleo — no importa si es una fábrica, una tienda, un edificio, una finca o un huerto — si no tienen la autorización del dueño o del gerente, o una orden judicial. Si el oficial obtiene autorización, entonces puede hacerle preguntas relacionadas a su situación de inmigración.

Usted tiene el derecho de quedarse callado. En muchos estados, usted no tiene ni que decirle su nombre al oficial. Aunque quizás quiera dar su nombre solamente para que su familia u abogada pueda localizarlo.
Usted también tiene el derecho de hablar con un abogado antes de contestar cualquier pregunta. Su respuesta a toda pregunta que el oficial le haga puede ser, “Yo deseo hablar con un abogado.”
No es necesario decirle al oficial de inmigración donde usted nació o cual es su estatus de inmigración.
No es necesario mostrarle al oficial sus documentos de inmigración ni ningún otro documento. Si el oficial le pide ver sus documentos, usted tiene el derecho de contestar que usted “desea hablar con un abogado.”
¿Qué puede hacer mi unión?

Si usted pertenece a una unión o sindicato, hay varias formas en cual la unión le puede asistir. Usted debe consultar con uno de los representantes de la unión con respecto a sus preocupaciones. Si lo hace sentir mas cómodo, pídale a uno de los otros trabajadores que lo acompañe cuando hable con el representante de la unión. Su contrato con la unión pudiera tener provisiones que protegen a los trabajadores, como por ejemplo acuerdos con el patrón que establecen algunas de las siguientes cláusulas:

El patrón no le permitirá a los oficiales de Inmigración que entren a su lugar de trabajo si no tienen una orden judicial válida firmada por un juez federal o un magistrado.
El patrón le informará inmediatamente a la unión si las autoridades de Inmigración lo han contactado, de modo que la unión pueda tomar los pasos necesarios para informar a sus miembros sobre sus derechos y ayudarles a conseguir asistencia legal.
El patrón le permitirá a los abogados o a líderes comunitarios proveídos por la unión a entrevistar a sus empleados en un ambiente tan privado como sea posible dentro del lugar de empleo. Es posible que la unión tenga un plan legal que le provee abogados especialistas en inmigración a sus miembros.
El patrón promete no revelar los nombres, domicilios o estatus de inmigración de ningunos de sus empleados a Inmigración, a menos que sea requerido por ley.
El patrón no participará en ningún sistema de verificación electrónica (por computadora) relacionada con el estatus de inmigración o el permiso de trabajo de sus empleados.

When may Immigration enter my home?

Immigration officers may not enter your home unless they have a “warrant.” A warrant is a document issued by a court or government agency. There are two types of warrant — one for when they are coming to arrest you, and another for when they have permission from a judge tosearch your home. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can issue arrest warrants, but only a court can issue a search warrant.

If an officer knocks on your door, do not open it. Ask the officer through the closed door to identify himself. You can say, “Who are you with?” or “What agency are you with?”
The officer might say that he is with “Department of Homeland Security” or “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” The officer might name another agency. No matter what, keep the door closed. Through the closed door, ask the officer if he has a warrant.
If he says “yes,” still do not open the door. Ask him to show you the warrant by slipping it under the door.
When examining the warrant, look for your name, your address, and a signature. This can help you decide whether or not the warrant is valid (true). The warrant will be in English. If you have trouble reading it or understanding it, get someone else in your house to help you read it or translate it, if possible.
If the warrant does not look valid, you should return it under the door and say it is incorrect.
If the warrant the officer shows you looks valid, look to see if it was issued by a court or by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
If the valid warrant was issued by a court and authorizes a search of your house, you should let the officer in the house.
If the valid warrant looks like it was issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) but not a court, you have the right not to let the officer enter your house. If the warrant authorizes your arrest but not a search of your house, you may want to go outside to meet the officers but not let them in the house. This is especially important if you live with other people who might have immigration problems, because once you allow the officer into your house, he can ask questions of anyone else who is there, too.
If you do talk to the officer (again, outside your house — do not let him in), do not answer any questions. Do not sign any papers. Tell the officer you want to talk to a lawyer before you say anything. Do not provide any kind of identification documents that say what country you are from. Make sure not to carry any false documents with you at any time.
Another way an immigration officer can enter your home legally (besides if he has a valid warrant) is if you give the officer permission to enter. This is called giving the officer your“consent” to enter your home.
If you open your door, or if the officer asks if he can come in and you say “yes,” you are probably consenting to his entering your home.
The best thing to do is to keep the door closed and ask the officer to identify himself. Then ask to see a warrant. Do not open the door if he cannot show you a warrant.
An officer is not allowed to force you to consent to his entering your home. For example, if your house is surrounded by Border Patrol or Immigration cars with their lights flashing, and the officer is holding his gun as he asks for permission (your consent) to enter your home, and you say “yes” because you’re afraid, a court would probably not consider this to be valid consent.

How can I protect myself if Immigration comes to my house?

If you hear that Immigration has been asking questions about you at your job or if you learn that Immigration is conducting an investigation at your job, it is possible that officers may show up at your house.

Make sure that someone you trust knows where you are, and that you know how to reach them in case of an emergency (if you have been detained by Immigration).
You and your family or close friends should have the names and phone numbers of good immigration attorneys posted near the telephone at home so that they can call the attorney in case you are detained.
In general, it is also a good idea to keep a copy of your important papers (birth certificate, any immigration papers, etc.) at the home of a friend or relative whom you trust and can call in case you are detained.

What should I do if Immigration comes to my workplace?

Immigration officers are not allowed to enter your workplace — whether it is a factory, store, high rise, farm, or orchard — without permission from the owner or manager. If an officer does get permission, the officer is free to ask you questions about your immigration status.

You have a right to keep silent. In most states, you don’t even have to tell the agent your name. Although you may want to provide your name only so your family or attorney can locate you.
You also have the right to talk to a lawyer before you answer any questions. You can tell the officer, “I wish to talk to a lawyer,” in response to any question the officer asks you.
You do not need tell the immigration officer where you were born or what your immigration status is.
You do not have to show the officer your papers or any immigration documents. If the officer asks you for your papers, tell the officer, “I wish to talk to a lawyer.”
What can my union do?

If you belong to a labor union, there are ways it can help you. You should talk to your union representative about your concerns. If it would make you feel more comfortable, ask some of your co-workers to go with you to talk to your representative. Your union contract might have language that protects union members, such as an agreement with the employer that has one or more of the following provisions:

The employer will not allow any Immigration officers to enter the workplace without a valid warrant signed by a federal judge or magistrate
The employer will immediately notify the union if the Immigration authorities contact the employer for any purpose so that the union can take steps to inform its members about their legal rights or to help them obtain legal assistance.
The employer will allow lawyers or community advocates brought by the union to interview employees in as private a setting as possible in the workplace. The union might also have a legal plan, which provides workers with immigration attorneys.
The employer agrees not to reveal the names, addresses, or immigration status of any employees to Immigration, unless required by law.
The employer will not participate in any computer verification of employees’ immigration or work authorization status.

Representing community solidarity with the school district and the city hall were, from left, Perry Elementary School Community Liaison Megan Maylum, Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson and Perry Elementary School Co-Principal Ned Menke.



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