5 Ways Immigrants can protect their rights
Across California, immigrant families are taking action to protect their rights. They are staying informed, seeking help from trusted legal services providers, and learning what their immigration options are. Despite recent changes to immigration policy, immigrant communities in California are not giving in to fear.
Here are five ways to make sure you and your family’s rights are protected:
- Know your rights. Everyone in the United States has certain rights under the U.S. Constitution, regardless of immigration status. These include the right to remain silent, the right to not open the door to agents without a warrant signed by a judge, the right to speak to a lawyer and make a phone call, and to not sign anything before talking to a lawyer.
- Make a plan. All families should have a plan in case of an emergency. Have a plan for who would take care of your children or your elders if you are unable to, and who would handle your finances. Talk to your children about this plan. The plan should include emergency numbers, a list of important contact information, and a file with important documents. Check with your consulate about registering your children’s births if they were born in the United States. Let your children’s school know who is allowed to pick them up, and keep medical and emergency contact information on file so your family can access them. Keep the number of a qualified immigration attorney with you.
- Find out what your options are. Get an immigration consultation with a qualified immigration attorney. This will help you understand your legal options and see if you might be eligible for a more permanent immigration benefit. To avoid fraudulent service providers, go to a trusted community organization, make sure you confirm the attorney’s credentials and ask for a written contract and a receipt for any payments. (Remember that notarios are not lawyers and are not qualified to give you legal advice!)
- Take action. No matter what your status is, there is likely something you can do. Undocumented immigrants can find out what forms of relief they qualify for. (Some people already qualify for a visa and don’t know it.) Eligible green card holders can apply for U.S.citizenship. Those with a criminal conviction can find out if there is a way to erase it from their record. Whatever you are considering applying for, just make sure that you go through a trusted legal services provider.
- Stay connected. Connect with your community, get involved and stay informed. Local non-profit community organizations are working to make sure you have the information and legal help you need. Come in for a visit or give them a call to find out what you might qualify for.
To find out what your immigration options are and get more information about your rights, visit:
Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco
55 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, California 94111
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the toll-free in-language helplines:
Tagalog: (855) 300-2552
English: (888) 349-9695
Callers should leave a message if unable to speak directly to a community advocate. All calls are returned within one business day.
This column was sponsored by Ready California, a coalition working to support California organizations to get information and legal services out to immigrant community members.
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