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Beware The Voluntary ICE Survey On Central American Refugees

– Posted in: Immigration Law, Policy & Politics | Immigration Agencies 101

According to AILA, ICE and contractors have started to conduct a “voluntary” 30-minute survey that affects Central American clients.

ICE has noted “answers to the survey will not be used for any enforcement purposes.”

So why worry?

The ICE flyer on this topic states:

“In an effort to better understand the factors contributing to a record surge of family units from Central America, and to inform on the types of services made available to families enrolled in the Alternatives to Detention program, ICE continues to explore options to gather information from families under the agency’s supervision.”

It’s just a survey, right?

Well . . .

A 30-minute discussion hardly seems like a pure survey.

In addition, throughout 20+ years battling with ICE to defend immigrants from being deported, I cannot recall any instance when ICE took some action unrelated to law enforcement, detention, or removal.

Their claim reminds me of the days just before the switch from suspension to deportation to cancellation of removal.  ICE asked immigrants 50 questions not used for any direct law enforcement purposes.  Instead, the questions and answers were given to their lawyers to use at immigration court in deportation proceedings.

Other times, ICE has directly reneged on stated promises and commitments without notifying opposing counsel.

Given such experiences, it is difficult to trust ICE and take them at their word.

That an ICE survey will not be used for law enforcement purposes may be true; that it will not be used against immigrants in any shape, form, or manner blinks reality.

AILA is recommending that each attorney discuss with their clients the potential risks of participation/non-participation in this voluntary survey.

My view is that until more is known about this sudden survey, all clients should withhold from agreeing to participate.

It’s possible, however, participation will be “mandatory” though labelled “voluntary”.

I would also suggest that to the extent immigrants agree to participate, they should only do so in the presence of or in tandem with a licensed attorney.

Because there is much unknown at present about the survey, AILA is asking for anyone with information about the ICE survey to please fill out this form.

By Carlos Batara, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics