BY JON CRONIN
Lawyers advised immigrants during a town hall this week on immigrant rights in Richmond Hill not to open the door and to remain silent if Immigrant and Customs Enforcement officers arrive at their homes.
Anthony Andrews, a Democratic district leader, led the town hall, which was held at Richie Rich Palace in Richmond Hill. The event was coordinated by Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Laurelton).
“This is a very difficult time, not just in our community, but across the country,” Andrews said. “With a president that not only challenges us…not just emotionally, but the things that he’s done have challenged us from a social activism standpoint.”
Janice Huseine, a Queens resident and representative of Immigrant Outreach, shared the story of her husband, a Guyanese immigrant, who was taken by ICE at home, spent 557 days in detention and was released this past September with an ankle monitor.
“I encourage him not to speak. I speak for him,” said Huseine.
She also noted that an immigrant should never leave their home without their passport or travel documents on them and should not produce them when asked.
“Always ask for a lawyer,” she said.
Alisha Mohammed, a South Richmond Hill immigration attorney, said being informed and prepared is important,
“Don’t be anxious, this is still a sanctuary city,” she said.
She said that if an immigrant has had any infractions with the law, they should find out what their immigrant status is and for which status they can apply.
Mohammed told attendees not to sign anything if approached by ICE and encouraged immigrants to find a trusted family member, friend or neighbor with whom they can make an emergency plan. She said to give that person power of attorney, so that they can use bank accounts to pay lawyers.
She noted, “By virtue of being present, you have rights.”
Mohammed said that if immigrants are confronted by ICE, they should stay silent, ask for an attorney and not open the door to their homes, unless agents have a warrant, which they should ask to be slipped under a door or through a window. If the information on the warrant is incorrect, they should give it back to the officers and tell them to leave.