Latino Life: Mexican Consulate in Fresno Offers Advice To Potential Detainees

Raids in late February by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE has led to more than two hundred arrests in California including several in the Central Valley.

The following statement was released by ICE on March 1st:

"ICE focuses its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security. However, ICE no longer exempts classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States."

Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The arrests are sparking conversation about immigrant rights. Oscar Sanchez, the Consul of Protection at the Mexican Consulate in Fresno was a guest on Latino Life. He spoke with host Graciela Moreno about what people should know before, during and after a detention. The following is a transcript of the conversation. You can also watch the interview.

Graciela: Great to have you here.So, we keep hearing about these raids that are happening more and more, and it's my understanding that you have been holding information workshops for folks for the last year, is it?

Oscar: Yes.

Graciela: Yeah? Tell me a little bit about that.What are you teaching them?

Oscar: We've been teaching people basically on their rights.We call them "Know Your Rights" workshops.We've been doing that for the past year, working with nonprofit organizations and also with immigration attorneys so they can know what can they do if they face a detention of ICE. But, also, we have immigration -- we call it "immigration diagnosis," where they can come to the consulate, they explain their situation to an attorney and he or she explains the possibilities for changing into a legal status here in the United States.And also we have, on Fridays, a workshop on citizenship, which we think is the best way to be protected as a preventive effort.

Graciela: Absolutely.So, in terms of how to prepare, if folks fear that this may happen to them, there are certain documents and certain things that they maybe should do in case this were to happen, right? Tell us about that.

Oscar: The problem is -- It's like a...The easy part is to be prepared -- the before part. So we recommend, of course,to collect the necessary documents in terms of identity,nationality, which is a birth certificate, a state-issued I.D.,and other documents that may be...well, other documents to prove who they are, where do they come from, etcetera other documents, also, like property titles on their cars, on their houses, and if they have children, of course, all the story of the children -- no? -- birth certificates, I.D., school papers.

Graciela: School documentation and what not.

Oscar: Yeah, etcetera.

Graciela: Okay. All right.So prepare as much as you can to make sure that you have all the information from every family member, that everything is ready to go or to

Oscar: It's always available, yes, but, also, the essential information that they can have any time with them.

Graciela: So, what happens when you get a knock on the door and you know that it's ICE, they identify themselves as such? What are folks -- What are their rights when this is happening?

Oscar: Okay.Well, their rights is they have the right of a proper procedure. That starts with the I-200 or I-205 form. That is the arrest or the deportation order from a judge. So they have the right to see it. So if there's an agent, an ICE agent, come knocking on the door, they have to prove that they have the order to arrest or they have the order to deportation.

Graciela: Okay.

Oscar: And they have the chance,based on the Fourth Amendment,of not letting them in to their house. They have the right to say, "I don't want to speak with you --I want to speak with a lawyer," and will remain silent. Those are the Miranda rights, as you may know. And, of course, they have the right, if they face an imminent detention, to try to speak with an immigration judge.

Graciela: Okay. So they have the right to not do any of these things, but they also have the obligation to not resist, right? So tell us about some of the things that they should do in terms of not getting into any legal trouble.

Oscar: Yeah, of course. Of course, they never have to resist a detention. Of course, never hit an officer, because that's a crime here. And, of course, do not try to bribe or give false information. That's not helpful. But, also, they do not have to mention their immigration status or their -- goes both ways, no? -- but, also, not try to flee, not try to resist, not hitting the officer. That's basically the most important part, no? And if they resist a detention, there's also another consequences for that, so we -- The first recommendation that we do is remain calm, think straight so that you can have better chances of protect your own rights.

Graciela: Right. Remain calm and think straight. I think that's very important.If folks are of Mexican descent,if they do get picked up and deported, what happens once they arrive there? Because we're talking about people that may never have been to Mexico or may have not been to Mexico in 20, 30 years,right? So what happens once they arrive there? Where do they go?

Oscar: We, as the Mexican government, have been developing a program through the cooperation with the National Immigration Institute but also with the Mexican foreign-affairs ministry for Mexicans in return. So this is a wide program that covers job opportunities, health insurance, but, also, help contacting people there in Mexico that may know them or help providing a temporary I.D. so they can collect money in MoneyGram or another service like that. And, also, they have these job offers based on their history or their preparation, and they have access to all of that -- temporary shelters, etcetera.

Graciela: Okay. So, I know that all of this information can be provided by your office, right, by the office of the Mexican consulate. There's a number there, too, that maybe they need to keep handy, right, in case this were to happen to them and they need to make a call to you, because you almost act as an embassy of Mexico, right? It's almost -- You offer those kinds of service and protections to folks that are living here.

Oscar: Yeah, our main duty is that, to be closer to our citizens, to provide them as much information as we can get, and, of course, to be attentive, or what are they needs.

Graciela: What are their needs, exactly. And I know that this information you mentioned about, in terms of the Mexican government and the services they provide once they arrive back on Mexican soil -- if they are detained and

deported from California, they are taken to Tijuana, am I correct?

Oscar: Yes.

Graciela: And so, there, those offices are...

Oscar: Yes, it's actually a coordinated deportation. ICE forces take them to Tijuana,and in Tijuana, at the port of San Ysidro, they exchange them with our National Immigration Institute. So it's...

Graciela: So they arrive at the place where they can go to get

Oscar: And they provide them right there -- all the information. They make medical checkups. And, also, well, they ask them individually for their needs. Yeah.

Graciela: Thank you so much Consul Oscar Sanchez for being with us today.

Oscar: My pleasure.

For more information on workshops, advice and resources contact:

Consulado de México 7435 N. Ingram Ave, Fresno, CA 93711



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