Il­le­gals told about ways to thwart de­por­ta­tion

Net­work in­cludes judges, ed­u­ca­tors

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

A mas­sive anti-de­por­ta­tion in­fra­struc­ture has emerged to try to protect illegal im­mi­grants from Pres­i­dent Trump’s crackdown, with ad­vo­cacy groups coach­ing po­ten­tial de­por­tees on how to mas­sage en­coun­ters with po­lice, and lawyers and judges work­ing to shield them from charges that would make them pri­or­i­ties for de­por­ta­tion.

A video re­leased Mon­day by a coali­tion of ad­vo­cates in­structs illegal im­mi­grants not to open the door to fed­eral agents, what proof to de­mand if they are be­ing ar­rested and what to say if ac­costed out­side their homes.

Mean­while, at­tor­neys are work­ing to lower charges from some illegal im­mi­grant criminals, hop­ing to blunt their crimes so they don’t show up as high-pri­or­ity de­por­ta­tion tar­gets.

The lat­est in­stance was in Cal­i­for­nia, where an im­mi­grant from In­dia was ac­cused of abus­ing his wife. The Santa Clara pros­e­cu­tor told The Daily Beast that he re­duced a felony as­sault charge to a felony ac­ces­sory af­ter the fact charge in or­der to spare the

man a sen­tence that would have made him a de­por­ta­tion risk.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions lashed out at the pros­e­cu­tor last week, call­ing his ac­tion a per­ver­sion of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

“Think about the mes­sage that sends: If you are an alien and you com­mit do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, pros­e­cu­tors will charge you with a lesser crime so you can stay in the coun­try,” said Mr. Ses­sions, call­ing for an end to the prac­tice. “Enough is enough.”

Even when pros­e­cu­tors aren’t cooperating, de­fense at­tor­neys have come up with guid­ance for try­ing to plead down charges or make alternative pleas that will keep ma­jor con­vic­tions off their records. One piece of ad­vice from the Na­tional Lawyers Guild is to agree to pleas for two lesser mis­de­meanors from the same in­ci­dent rather than ad­mit to a sin­gle more se­ri­ous mis­de­meanor that would make an illegal im­mi­grant in­el­i­gi­ble for spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion.

“This is ab­surd,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy stud­ies di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies. “The pos­si­bil­ity of im­mi­gra­tion con­se­quences should not af­fect some­one’s sen­tenc­ing or the con­se­quences they face.”

The de­sire to thwart de­por­ta­tions has grown in the months since Mr. Trump won the pres­i­dency, vow­ing to en­force im­mi­gra­tion laws as writ­ten.

But even un­der Pres­i­dent Obama, who took a far more le­nient ap­proach, ac­tivists were search­ing for ways to game the sys­tem to aid illegal im­mi­grants.

One tac­tic uni­ver­si­ties used was to sched­ule overseas trips for illegal im­mi­grant stu­dents who had been ap­proved un­der Mr. Obama’s 2012 de­por­ta­tion amnesty, the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram, or DACA. Un­der a pro­vi­sion of im­mi­gra­tion law, per­mis­sion to travel out­side the U.S. for ap­proved rea­sons can earn stu­dents ad­vance pa­role, mean­ing that im­mi­grants could get a short­cut to a path to cit­i­zen­ship upon their re­turn.

Pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions in Cal­i­for­nia were par­tic­u­larly ea­ger to put that to use for DACA stu­dents. Ms. Vaughan pointed to one Chi­cano stud­ies pro­fes­sor at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity, Long Beach, who took dozens of stu­dents to Mex­ico for school trips, giv­ing them the pre­text that they needed to earn ad­vance pa­role.

Ms. Vaughan said the de­sire to thwart im­mi­gra­tion law has be­come epi­demic.

“They just don’t be­lieve that im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment is le­git­i­mate or a wor­thy goal,” she said. “They’ve ro­man­ti­cized illegal im­mi­gra­tion and have come to be­lieve that illegal im­mi­grants need to be pro­tected from our laws. They’ve lost sight of the fact that im­mi­gra­tion laws protect Amer­i­cans.”

The ac­tivists counter that illegal im­mi­grants have rights un­der the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and that those rights need to be re­spected. Knowl­edge of those rights needs to be re­in­forced, ac­tivists say.

The video re­leased Mon­day was aimed at chil­dren of illegal im­mi­grants who are hop­ing the young­sters would help ed­u­cate the adults on their op­tions.

“If they come here, to the house, don’t open the doors. ‘No abran las puer­tas,’” the In­formed Im­mi­grant coali­tion said in its seven-minute train­ing video.

U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of­fi­cers said they are al­ready see­ing far fewer peo­ple will­ing to open doors to them as warn­ings take hold.

The video does warn illegal im­mi­grants against driv­ing if they don’t have a li­cense, urges them not to carry false pa­pers and re­peat­edly cau­tions against at­tempt­ing to flee au­thor­i­ties.

But it does of­fer strate­gies for en­coun­ters. If illegal im­mi­grants have chil­dren who are U.S. cit­i­zens, they are encouraged to men­tion them in the hope that it would sway agents to leave the fam­ily alone.

Those who have chil­dren in the coun­try il­le­gally are ad­vised not to men­tion them. Other­wise, the video says, the chil­dren could be­come tar­gets for de­por­ta­tion.

“Don’t carry pa­pers from an­other coun­try with you, such as a for­eign pass­port. Such pa­pers could be used against you in the de­por­ta­tion process,” the video says.

ICE of­fi­cers usu­ally carry ad­min­is­tra­tive war­rants au­tho­riz­ing ar­rests for de­por­ta­tion pur­poses. They are not crim­i­nal war­rants signed by a judge, and the video says they do not carry the same force of law — so illegal im­mi­grants do not have to let of­fi­cers in­side or even open the door for them.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Im­mi­grant rights groups present a pe­ti­tion ask­ing law­mak­ers to help release a Nicaraguan asy­lum seeker. The de­sire to thwart de­por­ta­tions has grown in the months since Don­ald Trump won the pres­i­dency, vow­ing to en­force im­mi­gra­tion laws as writ­ten.

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