Afro Connect: Immigrant Border Policing – Know Your Rights.

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In response to a request from the leaders of Texas and Arizona, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem plans to send National Guard troops to the U.S. southern border.

The National Guard is a component of the U.S. Army and Air Force Reserves and comprises units in each of the 50 states, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. National Guard units are under the dual jurisdiction of the federal and state governments. The National Guard does not operate any prisons or jails.

The U.S. has paid increased attention to the enforcement of immigration laws since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Many believe the federal government does not have sufficient resources to enforce immigration laws, so state and local law enforcement should be utilized. However, immigration advocates question the appropriate role of state and local law enforcement agencies in enforcing federal law.

State and local law enforcement officials have historically been limited to enforcing certain criminal provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Enforcement of civil provisions, which include deportable alien apprehensions and removals, has been viewed strictly as a federal responsibility, with the states playing an incidental supporting role. However, many jurisdictions have now signed agreements with the federal government allowing state and local law enforcement agencies to exercise new, limited duties when it comes to enforcing immigration laws.

National Guard support at the border is likely to result in civil rights violations since officers lack the proper training and experience in immigration law enforcement. Those violations will disproportionately affect people of color. In the era of weaponization of the National Guard and other state and local law enforcement bodies, immigrants must know their rights.

All people living in the United States, including undocumented immigrants, have certain rights under the U.S. Constitution. Any person, documented or undocumented, has the right to remain silent, and anything said during an arrest or apprehension can be used in court.

If an immigration agent asks for proof of immigration status from a non-U.S. citizen, the documents must be provided. Under no circumstance should someone provide false statements or false documents. Without consent or probable cause, agents also cannot search belongings. Last but not least, it is always recommended to request an attorney’s assistance.

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