Always, my first piece of advice, as an immigration attorney that advocates for undocumented immigrants in this community is this: Remember your worth and your contributions to this society. A nation of immigrants is a rich nation – in culture, food, economics, and language. Continue to be contributing members of this country with pride and dignity.
- Do not drink and drive. Do not commit crimes. This is the number one way to find yourself in removal proceedings. If you are documented and your relative is not, please do the driving when at all possible.
- Know your name, phone number, and address in English. If you are undocumented then knowing these things, being confident, and sure how to answer is important. Otherwise, government officials may think that you are not telling the truth if you have to think about it. Remember you have a right to remain silent when questioned by police or government officials but you do not have a right to lie. Do not lie to any police or government official.
- Know your address history. Many immigration benefits require you to list your address and work history for five to ten years back. It is very hard to remember this information but it is important if you are ever illegible to apply for any immigration benefit to know your address and employment history. It is even better to maintain proof that you have lived at each of the locations.
- Have your documents in order. Make sure to have a valid passport. Know where your birth certificate is, marriage certificate, and divorce decree are. Make sure there are no errors on these documents. Have passports and birth certificates for all of your children. Make sure the names on your children’s birth certificates are all correct. Do not lie on your children’s birth certificates. Use a valid name on your child’s birth certificate. If you haven’t, you need to speak to an attorney or to vital records directly to get this documentation fixed.
- Pay your taxes and make sure you pay them correctly. If you are married, you need to file jointly or married filed separately. Do not list dependents that are not actually people that depend on you to live.
- Learn English. Listen to English TV, speak English to English-speaking friends and family when you can. Take English classes. Being able to speak the language will help you in all aspects of your life – it will help you with work opportunities, banking, speaking to your children’s teachers and friends, shopping, and will put you in a better position moving forward with your life.
- Do not help anyone into the United States illegally. Even knowingly sending money to help pay for the trip can put you at risk of breaking the law.
- Also, many immigration attorneys need supporting affidavits to help their client’s cases. You know your undocumented relative/friend better than anyone. To write a good affidavit, the letter must come from the heart, it must state your name and contact information and legal status (are you a US citizen, lawful permanent resident. It is also helpful to explain how you know the undocumented immigrant. It also needs to be signed and given back to the attorney with a copy of the identification (such as a driver’s license, passport, or lawful permanent resident card). The attorney will tell what details need to be included in the affidavit but remember, you know the person best and needs to come out in the affidavit.
- Do not vote or register to vote. This is considered a false claim to US citizenship and can bar you from any immigration benefit in the future.
- Know your Alien number, which is a number given to you if you ever applied for any immigration benefits or have ever been encountered by ICE before. This number is very important for your immigration attorney to know in case of any future encounters with ICE.
By Immigration Attorney at Dummit Fradin