Is it safe for illegal aliens to travel around the US? There may be some trepidation felt, but many undocumented immigrants have no trouble going to different places within the country. The possibility of detention is still there, but there are ways for an illegal alien to minimize the chance of this happening and avoid risking deportation as much as possible.
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
An undocumented immigrant doesn’t have to be told to stay away from heightened security areas that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers frequent. Understandably, detection and detention are a higher probability for an unauthorized immigrant who’s at the airport or at a border. That probability becomes even higher when illegal immigration is prominently figuring in the news.
Land v. Air Travel
The word going around the illegal immigrant population is that land travel is preferable to air travel. Of course, even traveling by car, bus, or train can be dicey if you approach the US border. There usually is higher activity along the southern border and the southwest border, so border patrol agents are kept very busy. Border control in these areas involves more human drama with Mexican immigrants illegally crossing and asylum seekers from Central America arriving in caravans.
As expected, foreign nationals living in the United States unlawfully are wont to keep away from the border where the chances of them being detected by immigration authorities such as Department of Homeland Security or Customs and Border Protection agents are higher.
Meanwhile, an illegal immigrant flying within the US would have to provide a government-issued ID. While a foreign passport would suffice, it might also reveal that the bearer is over-staying and illegally living in the United States.
Possession of US IDs
It’s possible that some illegals are issued valid US IDs like a driver’s license. If you’re undocumented, but have a valid US-issued ID, using it would probably prevent American immigration officers from being suspicious of you. They typically expect an individual of a different nationality to present a passport when asked for identification. A citizen or a lawful permanent resident would typically hand over a US driver’s license to provide identification.
Removal or Deportation
On the other hand, illegal immigrants in the middle of deportation proceedings and already facing removal can travel more freely. They can provide their Form I-862 (Notice to Appear), which indicates that they’ve been previously detained. There’s no call for undocumented foreign-born individuals with a Form I-862 to be detained and questioned all over again.
If you’re illegally in the US, keep in mind that you have the right to remain silent after providing your identification in case you’re ever questioned by an immigration officer. You will probably be released if there’s no warrant for your apprehension and there’s no ready proof that you’re undocumented.
Legal or illegal, you have rights. It really pays to be familiar with American immigration law if you’re a foreigner in the US.
Legal Immigration Status
Illegal immigration can be very stressful. For undocumented foreigners in the US, deportations to their home countries are an ever-present fear. It’s really better to be a legal immigrant, compliant with the requirements of the country’s immigration system.
Can you qualify for legal status if you’re already illegally staying in the US? There are options available for different circumstances, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Talk to an immigration lawyer to find out if your own situation makes you eligible for any of the available options.
If it turns out that you don’t qualify, organize your relevant documents, including IDs, as well as proof of your good moral character and evidence of your residence in the US. Store them in a safe place and let your loved ones know how to access them should anything untoward ever happens.
If you have concerns related to immigration laws and US immigration policies, talk to an immigration attorney. Whether you’re pursuing a green card or naturalization or aiming to amend your illegal status, you need legal assistance. Call the law office of Jeffrey Van Doren for help addressing legal immigration issues.