Home » Columnists » ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT TEXAS SB4 AND KNOW YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THIS LAW –PART II

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT TEXAS SB4 AND KNOW YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THIS LAW –PART II

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Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Q: When SB4 is implemented on September 1st, 2017, please can you advise what we should do when arrested by the police, in particular if the individual does not have any papers? What about for those with valid non immigrant visas?
A: Upon a lawful arrest, SB4 will require the local law enforcement agency to inquire about the individual’s immigration status and to share the information with immigration authorities. As such, if you do not have any papers or are undocumented, try to remain calm and ask for a lawyer. Also do not sign anything or discuss your immigration status unless you have a lawyer present. You still have the right to remain silent. For individuals who are legally in the US and have valid non immigrant status such as employment based or student and tourists visas, please remember that you are required to disclose you immigration status if asked by federal immigration officers. It will be in their best interest to do so.
Q: Under SB4, how are rights of crime victims and witnesses affected?
A: For victims and witnesses of crimes, they will need to be aware that during the course of reporting the crime, the local law enforcement has broad discretion to inquire into the immigration status of the victim or witness of the crime if they have probable cause to believe the individual has committed another crime and to further the investigation into the crime or related crimes. Entering the US illegally is a crime. As such, for those victims and witnesses who are undocumented and have immigration issues, if possible, it is best to consult with an immigration lawyer first before reporting the crime. The immigration lawyer may be able to determine if the victim and or witness qualifies for possible protections under our Immigration Law such as battered or abused spouse protection under the Violence Against The Women’s Act or as a victim of a qualifying crime and will be helpful in the prosecution of the offender (U visa) or if there are other available forms of relief from removal.
Q: When SB4 is implemented, will the school authorities report to immigration that my children and I are illegal? My children have been attending school without any problems for the past 3 years but now I am worried and I think I may have to keep them home.
A: Under SB4, all public and charter schools are deemed safe places. The police are not permitted to go into the school to ask about the immigration status of children in attendance and their parents. If the school official asks about your immigration status or that of your children, you should contact an attorney to help safeguard your interest.
Q: Under SB4, apart from public and charter schools, are there other safe places?
A: Yes, there are. All Community Centers, federal, state and local hospitals, mental health facilities and places of worship are safe places. Security guards and locally contracted police personnel in such places are not permitted to inquire into the immigration status of people who attend these places to seek medical treatment, to pray and attend religious service or to access community support services. College campuses and universities are not safe places. It is important to note under SB4, police officers including university or campus police can ask about your immigration status if detained or arrested.
Q: If one is arrested and taken to the police station for questioning and it has been determined that the individual is undocumented, what actually happens to the individual?
A: In such a situation, the law enforcement authorities will contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to surrender the individual to their custody for further action.

Disclaimer: Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case.
My Bio
Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. You may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at srichardslaw@aol.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.


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