A Maryland-based immigrant-advocacy group is distributing
guidebooks instructing those targeted by federal immigration
agents during job-site raids not to cooperate with authorities
if they are arrested or detained.
The eight-page, two-color illustrated book lists what rights
"people who are not United States citizens" have if detained by
immigration agents, details what to do if served with a warrant
or charged with a crime, and urges them to remain silent if they
The book also says they should refuse to provide authorities
with any information about their immigration status.
Included in the book is a "Know Your Rights" card to be cut
out and presented to arresting agents, showing that those
detained choose to exercise their "right to remain silent, the
right to refuse to answer your questions" and to "refuse to sign
anything until I consult with my attorney."
The book, which features cartoonlike drawings of armed black
and white police officers escorting Hispanic men in handcuffs
and shows babies crying because their fathers are behind bars,
is the product of CASA of Maryland Inc., working with other
Gustavo Torres, CASA's executive director, has not been
available for comment.
Locally, the organization has been involved in the
establishment of day-laborer sites for illegal aliens, and
helped mobilize more than 500,000 demonstrators at the
Washington Monument last year for what it called a "historic
immigrant rights march."
Kim Propeack, the group's director of community organizing
and political action, said CASA has "become aware that some
segments of our community" are frightened about the prospect of
immigration raids and may avoid interacting with government
institutions even if they have nothing to do with immigration.
"We consider providing people with accurate information
about their rights fundamentally important to the people we
serve, the local community concerned about public safety, and to
the national community, which has adopted a bill of rights," she
originally known as the Central American Solidarity and
Assistance of Maryland, is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable
organization established in 1985. According to its latest IRS
public-disclosure report filed on April 24, 2006, it received
$1.14 million in private donations and $1.64 million in
government fees and contracts -- $2.78 million in revenue in the
year ending June 30, 2005.
Its government funds came from the cities of Baltimore and
Takoma Park, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, the state
of Maryland, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in an effort
to gain operational control of the border, has targeted for
arrest illegal aliens and the employers who hire them,
describing the strategy as key in the fight against illegal
immigration and protecting the homeland.
The agency removed nearly 200,000 illegals from the country
in fiscal 2006, a 10 percent increase over fiscal 2005. There
were more than seven times as many job-site enforcement cases
last year than in 2002. Between 12 million and 20 million
illegal aliens are thought to be in the United States.
"No one is above the law, and we will continue to
aggressively and professionally protect public safety and
national security by enforcing the nation's immigration and
customs laws," ICE spokesman Marc Raimonde said.
Rep. Dana Rohrbacher of California, ranking Republican on
the House investigations and oversight subcommittee, said
distributing materials that teach illegal aliens "how to
circumvent the law" suggests that
"aiding and abetting criminal activity."
Mr. Rohrbacher called the
program "harmful to America."
Demos Chrissos, who co-founded Citizens Above
Party in Maryland to investigate suspected links between illegal
immigration and widespread voter fraud, said the book's
distribution warranted an investigation to determine whether
taxpayer funds were being used to advance CASA's agenda.
"Is CASA using the people's money to fund their own agenda
and is that not worthy of an investigation?" Mr. Chrissos said.
"I'd like to see how they justify putting out a publication on
how to skirt U.S. immigration law."
The CASA book advises those facing arrest not to lie to
immigration agents, warns against using false documents and
urges them not to carry papers from another country because they
could be used in a deportation proceeding.
The book says that during a job-site raid, immigration
agents need to have a warrant signed by a judge and urges those
at the site: "Stay calm. Do not run. This may be viewed as an
admission that you have something to hide."
It says immigration agents and police cannot make arrests
unless they have a warrant or evidence of nonresidency, adding:
"Do not tell immigration your immigration status or where you
were born." If confronted with a search warrant, the book
advises: "Do not open the door. Ask the officer to slip the
warrant underneath the door" to avoid giving agents the
impression that they have "consent" to enter.
The book says those arrested should demand their right to a
telephone call, contact their foreign consulate, and be aware
that formal charges have to be brought within 48 hours or they
have to be released.
It also says government agents may try to "intimidate" those
detained into signing documents and warns: "Don't let yourself
be tricked. You may be signing away your right to a hearing
before an immigration judge."