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According to the 2010 U.S. Census, one of five Florida residents is an immigrant. In Little Havana, nearly half of all residents were born outside the U.S. Many immigrant families live with at least one family member who is undocumented. The American Immigration Council reports that in the U.S., more than eight million citizens (nearly six million of them children under 18) are living with at least one undocumented family member—often a parent.

Florida Senate Bill 168, passed in 2019, requires local police and state agencies (including the Department of Children and Families) to comply with federal immigration enforcement, leaving many families terrified about the deportation of their loved ones. The Florida Immigrant Coalition, or FLIC, urges Florida immigrant to know their legal rights. Here are some of their tips:

  • Be prepared. Make a plan for you and your family about what to do if someone doesn’t come home or if anyone encounters ICE at home, at work, or in the community.
  • Keep an immigration attorney’s number with you at all times.
  • Have a notarized power of attorney ready, with indications on who you authorize to care for your children, in case you are detained.
  • Have all your important documents in a safe and easy to access place.
  • Make sure you have a financial fund to help with possible legal expenses.
  • If immigration agents (ICE) knock on your door, do not open it.
  • Ask to see the judicial warrant, which can be slid under your door. It must have your correct name and address and be signed by a judge.
  • If the document does not have that information, say that you do not authorize their entrance and that you will call your attorney.
  • Remain silent until you speak with your attorney.
  • DO NOT provide any information on your background, place of birth or when/how you came to the United States.
  • DO NOT sign any document that you don’t understand.

You can access a guide in Spanish, Kreyol and other languages here:

www.cliniclegal.org

Some individuals are worried they have an order of removal. If you have your case number (also known as the A number), you can check the status of your immigration case calling the automated information line of the Immigration Court.  Call 800-898-7180 Mark number 1 to listen to instructions in English.  When they ask, enter your case number (without the A at the beginning).

If an Immigration Judge has seen your case, you will need to spell out your last and first name and provide confirmation.  You will be told whether or not the judge has made a decision and if so, the outcome of that decision. If no decision has been made, you find out when and where your next court hearing will take place. If your case has not been before the Court, they will say that there is no case before the Court with the case number you entered, and you can consult with an attorney. The attorney can help you request more information.

Call the FLIC immigrant hotline with questions or to report raids or immigrant checkpoints: 1-888-600-5762. You can also visit the FLIC website at https://floridaimmigrant.org.

Corinna Moebius

[email protected]