Half of Ohio is an ICE 'Border Zone' — Here Are the Rights Immigrants Should Know


The Trump administration is cracking down on undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. — arrests by ICE officials climbed 30% in 2017 (143,470), and the number of those arrested who had no prior criminal convictions rose 146%. The Detroit enforcement area, which includes Cleveland and Ohio, racked up 3,409 arrests.

Locally, the effect has been widespread and several events have highlighted the extent of the efforts so far.

Pedro Hernandez-Ramirez, an Elyria man who'd spent the last 14 years caring for his disabled stepson, was arrested and deported in September. Hernandez-Ramirez, who was undocumented, had been arrested and deported before. After re-entering the country, he was arrested in 2013 but given a reprieve on deportation in 2015. That work permit was supposed to last until this month.

Esperanza Pacheco, a Painesville mother of four, whose children are all U.S. citizens, was arrested and deported to Mexico in November.

Amer Othman Adi, a Youngstown businessman with a wife of 30 years and four children, was deported last month to Jordan after ICE claimed his first marriage, 39 years ago when he first came to the country, was a green card arrangement.

The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from random and arbitrary stops and searches. However, that doesn't necessarily apply to those who fall within the government’s 100-mile "border zone." Since Ohio borders the Great Lakes, about half of it is considered such a zone. (In fact, two-thirds of the country’s population — more than 200 million citizens — lives within these border zones.)

Federal agents are granted "extraordinary powers" to search people or vehicles without a warrant in these border zones. But the "extraordinary powers" granted within these zones does not mean federal agents are constitutionally exempt. Agents are not allowed to pull someone over without "reasonable suspicion" of an immigration violation or crime and cannot search a vehicle without a warrant or "probable cause."

According to the ACLU of Michigan, people have the legal right to tell border agents the following — even if they are undocumented:

• "I am not required to answer your questions about my immigration status and do not wish to do so."

• "I do not consent to a search of my belongings."

• "I wish to remain silent."

People can also:

• Video record the interaction.

• Tell others they have rights and should use them, but do not block officers from performing their duties.

To learn more about immigrant rights, click here.

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