Trump’s Victory Will Not Defeat Immigrants or Constitutional Rights

Trump’s Victory Will Not Defeat Immigrants or Constitutional Rights

By Jackie Vimo, NILC economic justice policy analyst
NOVEMBER 10, 2016

Tuesday’s election signaled the start of a difficult period for immigrants in the United States. On the campaign trail, President-elect Trump said he would impose many policies that would tear communities apart, including mass deportations and a ban on Muslim immigrants. He made a lot of promises, but campaigning is not governing. In fact, Trump has already backtracked on his plan for a mass deportation initiative.

But Trump isn’t president yet. We have two-and-a-half months to make sure communities are prepared for whatever comes next. We strongly believe that his campaign promises would trample upon the civil and constitutional rights of many Americans and aspiring Americans, and we’ll use all the legal and political tools at our disposal to prevent the policies he actually enacts from harming our most vulnerable communities.

Trump may have won the election, but he did not erase the U.S. Constitution. One of the first steps you can take to protect your rights is to know what they are, because the Constitution protects everybody who lives in this country. And “everybody” includes immigrants who don’t have immigration documents.

  • Officers from any law enforcement agency, including ICE and the Border Patrol, must show you their ID if you ask for it. You have the right to ask them to show you an identity document.
  • You have the right to remain silent. You are not required to answer any questions or sign any papers about where you’re from or what your immigration status is.
  • You have the right to call and speak with an attorney. Be prepared. Look up the phone number of a lawyer or organization that provides legal help to immigrants. Then memorize their phone number, or write it down and carry it with you wherever you go.
  • Begin planning with your family tonight about what each of you will do if one of you is approached or detained by immigration or other law enforcement authorities.

We can also unite to stop Trump’s divisive rhetoric from becoming reality. Trump’s election was not a mandate to enact anti-immigrant policies. As the most unpopular president-elect in U.S. history, with the vast majority of U.S. voters still favoring letting immigrants stay, Trump is standing on a weak foundation.

Finally, get involved. If you aren’t already, become active in your local community. Local elected leaders are crucial allies when it comes to protecting all of us, even against bad federal policies. NILC is committed to working with immigrant communities to make sure states and localities pass more inclusive laws. Your neighbors and friends know first-hand the contributions refugees and immigrants make to everyone, and we will work hard to make sure those contributions are recognized.

This is not a time to sit on the sidelines, and we cannot let fear paralyze us. Now is the time to build bridges, to unify and strengthen our communities, and to show that immigrants have always been a crucial element of America’s greatness.