Immigrants rightfully fear that a wrongful arrest could result in the beginnings of deportation proceedings. One Mexican immigrant and his family was held by gunpoint on March 30, 2012 by arresting officers who would not produce a search warrant - even after such a warrant was demanded.
This individual has now been fighting with immigration authorities regarding deportation since this incident. Apparently he is not alone. Local law enforcement officers now can send information of arrests to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency or ICE through the Secure Communities program.
In the case of this Mexican immigrant, it was ICE who apparently passed on a tip that a gang member was selling drugs from this individual's address. There are differing stories as to why he was then arrested. Though police found no drugs on this individual's premises, police claimed that an immigration agent asked that he be taken into custody. In any case, this individual was not taken to criminal court and instead was taken to immigration court.
Local police are not legally permitted to arrest individuals for alleged violations of federal immigration law. This is because federal authorities want immigrants to be able to speak to law enforcement officers without fearing arrest. However, as this immigrant noted, the distrust of law enforcement authorities already exists. "Nobody's going to call them because they feel afraid of immigration issues. That is not right."
Any immigrant facing arrest or criminal conviction should speak to an attorney experienced in trying immigration lawsuits. The costs of conviction are simply too high. Immigrants often come to the United States to escape from violence or persecution. Deportation, however, could force the immigrant to return to the same location from which they fled.
Source: Newsworks, "Immigrants often forced to fight deportation despite wrongful arrests," Emma Jacobs, Oct. 31, 2013