Non citizens are guaranteed the right to free speech and the subsequent right to protest due to the First Amendment. However, the potential risks to protesting are higher for non citizens than citizens because of the impact an arrest could have on a non citizen’s immigration status.
In 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order which makes it clear that non citizens can be removed from the United States if they have been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense. In order to avoid possible deportation or other punishments, it is important for non citizens to be aware of their right to protest, but also the potential risks of protesting. For example, non citizens should be aware of their state’s stop-and-identify laws, so they can know whether or not to carry identification to protests. Non citizens should also find out how the criminal cases are processed in areas where protests are taking place, so that they can be prepared in case of an arrest.
In addition, non citizens should research potential curfews in their area that have been put in place and any other potential restrictions on citizens planning to protest. The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild also recommends researching immigration consequences that could take place due to local offenses such as unlawful assembly or resisting arrest. Some offenses could lead to immigration consequences such as bars from relief, mandatory deportation, or delays in relief. If the non citizen is fully informed and aware of the local laws in place, they will be more likely to avoid an arrest that could lead to negative effects on their immigration status. If a non citizen does not have legal status, they should check to see if the area they may protest in will contain ICE agents, as ICE and Border Patrol agents are helping to monitor protests in certain areas.
The right to free speech and protest is certainly extended to non citizens, but it will be important to research adequately and be in contact with an immigration attorney if possible before attending a protest.
This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances. For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options, you are invited to call me at 214-393-4917, complete my contact form