If you would report an undocumented immigrant to ICE you would have reported me to the Nazis and I don’t fucking trust you

A note:

I live in a state where you “have to” report anyone you suspect of being undocumented (that wonderful hellhole of Arizona). Now in practice this law has fallen far short, thank goodness. But if you live in such a place and they start enforcing it, here is how you get around it:

Assume everyone who doesn’t speak English is visiting.

Never ask about their job, because if they tell you they work here then you know they’re not visiting. You see them a lot for several weeks or months? Hm. Someone in the family must be ill. That’s terribly tough. They always dress in old, ratty laborers’ clothes? I feel you, my dude, I can’t afford new clothes either, and my dad has the fashion sense of an aardvark, so sometimes it’s not even about “affording” them. They say they’ve been here for years? You must have misunderstood. Spanish isn’t your first language, after all. First and last name? It never came up, or you don’t recall–you meet a lot of people.

And then, if you’re asked: no, you haven’t seen anyone residing illegally in the United States. Just people visiting.

Very good very important addition

Essentially, this is the civil society version of a work-to-rule strike.

Don’t do more than is expressly asked of you, and do what you are asked with such an intense attention to protocol that not asking you at all becomes more effective than even bothering.

In this case:

“Have you seen an illegal immigrant?”

“Could you describe an illegal immigrant, officer?”

*officer describes a person who is in the country without appropriate paperwork, or who has crossed the border illegally*

“No, sir, I haven’t seen any illegal immigrant.”

And this is correct. You have NOT seen an illegal immigrant, because you have no way of knowing if Jose Fulano is here legally or not. And since you can’t see his paperwork (or lack thereof), and did not personally see him cross the border illegally, you are only answering precisely the question asked.

I’m not American, and I have like, three followers, but this is important.

So, I’m a lawyer, who deals with immigration though does not specialize in it. But here’s the thing(s): 

1) Even someone who’s working could be here on a migrant (or other sort of) visa (hey, there are a few thousand per year, and *someone*’s got to get them, right?) or could be waiting for their case to resolve in immigration court, after having come to America to join a born or naturalized American family member. 

2) Even people who are working improperly could have come into the country legally – and just overstayed their visa or be violating the conditions of their visa, and you have no idea what the niggly little regulations that govern that might be. 

3) If a law enforcement officer asks you about a neighbor/friend/etc., take this moment to remind them that, unlike them, you cannot ask a random person off the street for their ID and be entitled to a response. 

4) Even if someone has told you that they are undocumented, you still don’t know, do you? Humans lie all the time. How could you know for sure? You can’t, because they can’t prove that they have a lack of papers. Just because you haven’t seen papers doesn’t mean they don’t exist! 

5) Don’t ever talk to cops in general. Why are you talking to a cop? Stop that, as soon as it is safe and feasible. 


a very tired public defender

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