Advancing Justice-LA Urges Asian and Pacific Islander Immigrants to “Know Your Rights” As Deportations and Raids Expand

Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director at Advancing Justice-LA. Photo by Keyang Pang
Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director at Advancing Justice-LA. Photo by Keyang Pang

LOS ANGELES – As a result of President Trump’s immigration executive orders, immigration raids and deportations are increasing across the country. Many more immigrants, including many Asian and Pacific Islander (API) immigrants, are at much higher risk of being detained and deported than during the Obama Administration. Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) advises and urges API immigrants to “know your rights” and understand how to prepare for and respond to increasing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities.

“We are concerned that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants do not fully realize that the Trump Administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants will include many of our own community,” says Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director at Advancing Justice-LA. “A visa overstay is just as undocumented as crossing the border without papers — as long as an individual does not have current legal status, they are at serious risk of deportation, regardless of criminal history.  And of course, anyone with a criminal history is a main target of the new Administration.”

In recent weeks, there have been an increase in reports of ICE presence at public spaces, workplaces, and homes. All immigrants should arm themselves with  resources such as “know your rights” cards and  prepare for potential encounters with ICE. This is true for not just undocumented immigrants but also any green card holders or refugees with criminal records.

Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu. Photo by Keyang Pang
Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu. Photo by Keyang Pang

The potential impact in Southern California is particularly concerning.  “We live in one of the most heavily immigrant communities in the nation,” says Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu.  “Over 35 percent of the population in Los Angeles County is immigrant — and there are an estimated 130,000 undocumented Asian immigrants here, many living in families with mixed immigration statuses.  Our community must be prepared for the surging immigration raids and detentions.”

Before a raid takes place: 

  • Carry the right documents – Avoid carrying documents that contain information about your immigration status or country of origin (such as passports)
  • Memorize important phone numbers – Also keep a list of these phone numbers (attorney, family, etc.)  in an easily accessible place at home.
  • Store all your important documents – Have it in an accessible spot so a friend or family member may easily retrieve them in case you are detained.
  • Create a plan – Make special arrangements for childcare and work with friends and colleagues on proper response if something happens.
During encounters with law enforcement: 
  • Do not open the door and ask for a warrant – Law enforcement need warrants to enter and search a workplace and your home.
  • You have the right to remain silent – Do not lie. You can show them your “Know Your Rights” card.
  • Do not sign any documents unless your lawyer is present.
  • Ask if you are free to go.
  • Remain calm, do not run away.

     “Know Your Rights” card.
    “Know Your Rights” card.

If you witness a raid in a public space, workplace, or at home, try to capture the name, agency, or other identifying information of any law enforcement officer present. Report raids to the Los Angeles Raids Rapid Response Network hotline: 888-624-4752 (English/Spanish).  For Asian language speakers, call Advancing Justice-LA’s toll-free in-language helplines (see below).

In addition to our  “Know Your Rights” page online, Advancing Justice-LA provides immigration “Know Your Rights”  information sessions by request for school groups and other organizations. These information sessions cover relevant information about immigration law, the immigration system, and one’s rights in the face of law enforcement.

We also urge all out of status immigrants to seek a comprehensive immigration screening from a reputable immigration provider.  Advancing Justice-LA holds free and confidential immigration screenings every week:

  • Every Tuesday from 2:00 pm-5:00 pm (Karsh Family Social Service Center – 3750 W. 6th St.)
  • Every third Wednesday from 2:00 pm- 5:00 pm (San Gabriel Valley Service Center – 1441 Santa Anita Ave.)
  • Every Thursday from 3:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m. (Advancing Justice-LA Office – 1145 Wilshire Blvd.)
In addition, we urge all green card holders who may qualify for U.S. citizenship to consider applying now.  Advancing Justice-LA holds free citizenship clinics are held every Friday and the 4th Saturday of the month.To schedule an appointment for immigration or citizenship related services, please contact [email protected]org or call Advancing Justice-LA’s toll-free in-language helplines: 

Chinese(800) 520-2356
Korean(800) 867-3640
Tagalog(855) 300-2552
Thai(800) 914-9583
Vietnamese(800) 267-7395
Khmer(800) 867-3126
English(888) 349-9695