By Jose Servin
Alerts of upcoming Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in Northern California and in Los Angeles sparked fear and mixed reactions last week on social media from the undocumented community. These raids, known as I-9 audits, or colloquially as redadas, were promised last year by ICE acting director Tom Homan as a part of a 400 percent increase in enforcement activity. Last month, ICE conducted a similar operation when they raided nearly a hundred 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country.
These I-9 compliance checks are more about instilling fear in our communities than about enforcing labor laws. ICE is aware of the chaos and panic that these raids cause, especially because they are usually announced in advance to an employer. The greatest tool that a community can use against these compliance checks is to be informed of their rights and understand what they can do in these situations to protect threatened workers.
In details gained from a 2013 leaked confidential ICE handbook, The Intercept found evidence of tactics that the agency gives its employees to circumvent constitutional law. One of their most effective tactics is to “gain consent from their targets.” In these cases, it’s important to know that the right to remain silent applies to anyone, documented or not, and that staying quiet is the best way to prevent self-incrimination and to prevent from giving consent to ICE officers.
Another effective tactic that can save workers from deportation is ICE’s use of warrants signed by their own agents, rather than by a district court or a state court. A warrant is the only way that an ICE agent can enter an area clearly marked as private. Often, they’ll use these internal warrants signed by themselves to feign authority, so they don’t have to waste time in obtaining an actual warrant. By reading correctly and questioning these warrants, a worker can prevent ICE from gaining access to a place where they are not allowed, where potential victims may be.
Finally, just like with the police, it is always a good idea to record ICE. If caught on camera, any constitutional violation they commit will be easier to prove in court, so film la migra! Just because these tactics are meant to cause fear does not mean that we can’t prepare for them. Knowledge is the best tool in resisting ICE and by knowing our rights, we can strike fear in ICE agents by making sure they know we’re watching for their unconstitutional tricks.