In light of the change in US administration and drastic changes in US immigration policy, the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) issues the following guidance to immigrants; particularly Caribbean nationals, who are permanent residents (green card holders), out of status or undocumented:
1. The Trump administration has in effect reinstated a Bush administration policy known as “Secure Communities.” “Secure Communities” is a partnership between federal, state and city law enforcement. It mandates and empowers State and City Police, as well as the courts, to arrest and/or detain undocumented immigrants, with or without criminal convictions, as well as permanent residents with criminal convictions, who engage the criminal justice system. Detainees are remanded to the custody of US Department of Homeland Security, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), for removal/deportation proceedings for violating US Immigration law.
2. Obey the law at all times to avoid arrest. If arrested, you have a right to remain silent as well as a right to an attorney.
3. Do not operate a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license issued to you by any State within the US. It is an arrestable offense. You may drive in the US lawfully, but temporally, with a valid driver’s license issued to you by a government agency in your country of origin (unless residing in the US). Contact your DMV for more information about driving with a foreign license.
4. Driving with, or use of what is known as, an “international driver’s license,” or an “international driver’s permit,” is a crime. These are unlawful or fraudulent instruments. Presenting them to a police officer could be a felony.
5. Do not drive under another person’s name or with someone else’s license. If stopped and/or discovered by the police you can be arrested for identity fraud.
6. If a law enforcement officer issues a summons/ticket to you for a moving violation or quality of life infraction like; being in the park after hours, urinating in public, jaywalking, riding on the sidewalk, crossing in between subway train cars, spitting on the train, etc., do not become a scofflaw. Pay all fines and/or ensure you attend every court hearing until the matter is completely resolved, and make sure you obtain a certificate of disposition.
7. If arrested and prosecuted for a committing a crime, do not accept misdemeanor and/or felony plea agreements, without the advice of both a criminal defense and immigration attorney. Violations are acceptable in some circumstances but consult a criminal defense and immigration attorney before accepting a plea for a violation. Pleading guilty to crimes without the advice of counsel could jeopardize your permanent resident status, prevent you from becoming a US citizen or make you ineligible for permanent residence or US citizenship.
8. Individuals with permanent residence status (green card holders) for three or more years, pursuant to marriage, are eligible for citizenship and should apply immediately, after consulting an immigration attorney. Individuals with permanent residents status for five or more years; pursuant to a petition by a parent, child, sibling, or employment, are eligible for citizenship and should apply immediately, after consulting an immigration attorney. Permanent residents with criminal convictions should NOT apply for citizenship without first consulting an immigration attorney about their criminal convictions. Failure to seek the advice of counsel may result in you being placed in removal/deportation proceedings.
9. Permanent residents, persons who are out of status or undocumented, who have felony and/or misdemeanor convictions for deportable offenses or crimes of moral turpitude, should, in contemplation of being deported, consult an immigration Attorney regarding their status. These individuals should also avoid international as well as interstate travel within the US, as they may be subject to questioning and/or detention by ICE agents.
10. Persons who are undocumented or out of status and wish to lawfully regularize their status must do so as soon as possible; after consulting an immigration attorney.
11. Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals: This is a program enacted by President Obama for young people (Dreamers) who came to the US before age 16 and is currently under age 31. Prospective candidates should consult an immigration attorney to verify eligibility and criteria and apply immediately for DACA status before the program ends. Those with DACA status should seek to renew their status within three months of expiration.
Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)