Don’t drive with a cracked windshield, or tinted windows or with a rosary hanging from your rearview mirror.
It gives officers probable cause to stop your car.
If a cop comes to your door, don’t answer it. If they have a search warrant, don’t talk to them. Most of all, always be polite. Even if you disagree with the officer confronting you.
“Do you really think these police officers are there to gather information to help you?” Bakersfield attorney Daniel Rodriguez asked. “What do you think? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out, whether you’re a documented or undocumented rocket scientist.”
That’s some of the advice a panel of 15 lawyers delivered to a packed, standing-room-only group of immigrants — some of whom were undocumented — at Cal State Bakersfield Tuesday. Those individuals are now navigating complicated immigration laws and federal directives that are changing on a weekly basis under the Trump administration.
The forum allowed undocumented immigrants to ask for free legal advice from the Immigration Justice Collaborative, a group of local attorneys who formed to give undocumented immigrants representation, said H.A. Sala, an attorney who helped form the group.
The town hall meeting came the same day that the Department of Homeland Security unveiled plans for sweeping immigration enforcement policies directing agents to capture and deport any undocumented immigrants. It also called for the hiring of 10,000 more immigration agents and increased the ability of local police to assist in immigration enforcement.
CSUB officials were quick to quell fears among undocumented students Tuesday.
“Our university police do not arrest or detain or contact suspected undocumented immigrants,” Provost Jenny Zorn said. “It is the intention of our campus community to support our students and protect their rights.”
But that does little to assuage worries of Dreamers, or those students who were brought to the country during childhood and later enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal immigration policy enacted under the Obama administration. That policy ensures Dreamers would not be deported if they had no criminal record and also provides them renewable two-year work permits.
President Trump vowed on the campaign trail to dismantle the program on “day one.”
Since then, he’s appeared to soften his stance, saying that he’d “show great heart” when dealing with DACA, and that it’s a “very, very difficult subject” for him.
Pedro Villalobos, a 22-year-old UC Santa Barbara graduate who was brought to the U.S. at two months old and is enrolled in DACA, described the president’s rhetoric as “meaningless,” pointing to DACA students swept up in immigration raids under his administration who were never detained under the Obama administration.
His mother, Carmen, called on other DACA parents Tuesday night to form a support group as they wade through changing immigration policies.
Meanwhile, lawyers at the forum said those enrolled in DACA who have no criminal record should reapply for the program, immigration attorney Edyta Christina Grzybowska-Grant said when asked about the legal status of Dreamers.
“If you are willing to risk losing the $495 filing fee, I’d say go ahead and do so … you just might buy yourself another two years,” Grzybowska-Grant said. “If you never had DACA, then it’s probably not a very good idea to apply because you’ll be disclosing a lot of personal information to the government.”
One woman asked about what protections exist for her daughter, who has been recently bullied by classmates, who called her by a racial slur and an “illegal,” and told her that her family would be deported, “once the wall was built.”
Attorney Rodriguez called the situation an “unfortunate” example of the impact of Trump’s campaign rhetoric, but that it’s not legal in California. Laws protect kids from being psychologically, verbally and physically bullied, Rodriguez said.
Parents should be filing complaints and documenting those complaints, Rodriguez said.
Most importantly, the theme of the night was for undocumented immigrants to keep their mouths shut if confronted by police.
“If an ICE officer asks you one of two types of questions — where are you from or how long have you been here —don’t answer the questions,” immigration attorney Win Eaton said. “If you answer the question. you’ll shift the legal presumption to you. Now it’s no longer the government’s job to prove that you’re not here legally, it’s your job.”