Most of us reading Muslim Girl are privileged enough to be American citizens or legal residents. But we may know many families that are undergoing major mental and physical anguish due to the uncertainty of the upcoming administration change. Many of them may have entered the United States as children, taking care of their families financially, or going to school without knowing what their future will be.
Trump has stated that one of his first acts as president will be to cancel DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an American immigration policy started by the Obama administration in June 2012. And with Trump’s recent appointment of Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions, as US Attorney General, who is criticized for his record on civil rights, voting rights and criminal justice reform, has caused an uproar, and many civil and voting rights organizations are taking a public stand against the senator’s nomination.
But the state of undocumented immigrants is part of reality, and topics addressing their situation are important. Washington DC-area federal immigration lawyer, Ferheen Siddiqui of Siddiqui & Khan PLLC, shares her list on what she discuss’ with clients to help them prepare for the Trump Administration.
Speak to an immigration attorney
Often undocumented immigrants are scared to even talk to a lawyer and aren’t aware of immigration avenues that might actually be available to them. Laws and policies change, or the client’s situation may have changed (ex: marriage to a US citizen) that benefit them now which may not have been available earlier.
Reach out to advocacy groups and your local place of worship
There are organizations that will help undocumented immigrants who are in need of food, shelter, advocacy, or basic information about their rights when it comes to labor laws, landlord-tenant laws, etc.
Make a plan
When ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers raid a home or place of employment, or send an undocumented immigrant to detention, family members often don’t know who or where to turn to for help. Or the person has minor children who will need care. Make a plan with family members by discussing who will care for children, who should be contacted (keep names and numbers of attorneys and advocacy organizations).
Stay under the radar
It’s important to obey all laws, because law enforcement can verify a person’s immigration status. This means not only keeping a clean criminal record, but also something as simple as obeying traffic/driving rules. Even a faulty headlight or an improper lane change could result in being pulled over by the police.
Learn to speak, read, and write English properly
This sounds stereotypical and harsh, but unfortunately there is a stigma in society against people who do not speak English. This stigma came more and more to light during the Trump candidacy. People are targeted when they sound different. No one should be obligated to speak a certain language or to speak in a certain way, but with hate crimes occurring more often, even how one speaks could keep them safe.