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Chicago Protesters: Non-Citizens and the Risk of Protesting | Chicago Immigration Attorney Mario Godoy

Non-Citizens and the Risk of Protesting

Many people in Chicago and the suburbs have taken to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd and other black men and women, and the issue of racism in America. President Trump has authorized ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to become involved in policing protests in some cities. Trump has further asserted that he has the right to send federal authorities to take control of any city or state if he deems it necessary. While many governors dispute the president’s right to send armed agents into their communities and the rights of Americans to peacefully protest, the reality is that non-citizens have extra risks if they protest and are arrested.

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) of Chicago is distributing important information about what can happen when undocumented people or non-citizens exercise their legal right to protest and are arrested:

  • Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights: the right to free speech, to have a lawyer in criminal proceedings, the right to be protected from unlawful searches and other guarantees.
  • Although you have a right to protest, there is a risk when non-citizens attend a protest because you are undocumented and do not have a legal right to be in the United States.
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, you are subject to removal from the United States. Even if you have a green card, your right to remain in the U.S. is conditioned upon various things, most importantly, criminal convictions.
  • If you are arrested, charged, and convicted of a crime arising out of your presence or participation in a protest, the conviction may lead to immigration consequences. It is very important that you do not accept any plea agreements until you or your criminal defense attorney has consulted with an immigration attorney.

What To Do If You Are A Non-Citizen Who Is Arrested While Protesting

If you are arrested, ask to speak to your lawyer. You have the right to remain silent and do not have to explain your immigration or citizenship status to the police, immigration agents, or any other officials. or agents: anything you tell an officer can later be used against you in immigration court. NLG advised that you carry the card of an immigration attorney with you when you go to a protest and that you write their phone number on your arm in case you get arrested and your things are taken away.

If you are charged criminally, don’t take the first offer that the government makes without first speaking to an attorney knowledgeable in both immigration and criminal law. 

Immigration criminal defense attorneys are experienced in the immigration consequences a noncitizen faces for a criminal conviction that a traditional criminal defense lawyer may not be aware of. Criminal Immigration is an area of the law involving cases that have both criminal and immigration issues attached to it. An experienced criminal immigration attorney knows how to fight for your best possible outcome and to reduce or dismiss charges and protect your immigration status in Illinois. If you are a green card holder or an illegal immigrant and are charged with a crime, it is critical that you consult an experienced criminal immigration attorney.

If you are a non-citizen who is arrested while protesting, contact the experienced immigration and criminal attorneys at Godoy Law Office. Godoy Law Office’s experience in criminal law as former assistant state’s attorneys and dedication to immigration law gives us a distinct advantage that allows us to fight zealously on your behalf. We represent clients throughout Illinois from our offices in Cook and Dupage Counties. Call us today at 855-554-6369. 

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